I had a funny argument with a ski brand representative. After a couple of runs on a ski, I came back and told him what I thought of the ski. I explained that I found the ski to be a bit squirrely and unstable, not easy to establish a line as easily as other skis in that class.
‘It’s your technique,’ he said. Or lack thereof, he probably meant.
First off – I have never claimed to be an expert skier. I am not and never will be. As 99% of visitors on this website, I am an enthusiastic amateur, just a recreational skier. If I do want an expert opinion, by the way, I ask my partner in crime Yoeri, who happens to be a high-level ski instructor. That said, let’s get back to the story.
In my feedback on the ski, I specifically compared it to other skis in that same class which I had skied recently (some even directly before). If my poor technique was to blame for my poor experience on that ski – wouldn’t my poor technique also make me dislike the other skis? That would have made me hate the entire category then since I simply can’t ski. But that wasn’t the case at all. I loved quite a few of them, and some higher-level skis too.
My skiing ability – in this case – is irrelevant, because it is the same in every ski test that I do. It’s more or less a constant factor. Although my abilities increase over the years, throughout one test event, it isn’t much of a factor.
Of course, some skis are somewhat out of my league. Meaning I can’t put in the precise technique or energy needed to get the most out of those higher-end skis. FIS skis, for example, are not for me to test. I simply can’t get a complete appreciation of their strengths and weaknesses, since they’re overshadowed by my weaknesses, in this case. This is not a big problem, however, since our audience for the most part isn’t really into that class of gear.
Everyone can feel the differences between skis
Within his or her ability range, it is my conviction that every skier can tell the difference between skis. Maybe you’re not able to precisely describe it, or explain it. That’s alright. But you can tell which ones you like best. And that’s the important part.
I have heard people say to intermediate skiers: it doesn’t matter what skis you’re on, you won’t feel the difference anyway.’ In one such case, I jokingly said ‘let’s put him on those World Cup GS skis then’ [188 cm long, very stiff, 35 m radius, race plate]. That was way too much ski for the intermediate skier, said the guy. He would break his legs.
So it does matter what skis you’re on. Whether or not that skier can explain or pinpoint why exactly is an entirely different story. Just talk to them. Why do you prefer this ski over that one? It turns easier? Is goes into crud easier? It feels more planted and stable and confidence-inspiring?
That kind of feedback is valuable. It can help us figure out what you like and dislike about certain skis. Let us do the analysis and advice you on your next pair. We always explain our suggestions. But don’t let anybody tell you – ever – that you’re not a good enough skier to feel the difference.