Gigiski is a Dutch-Belgian venture. For the most part, our audience is European (from the low countries, in fact). Regarding website visits, 95% are from Europe; in ski advice, 100% are European. In fact, most of these visits and advice requests are from countries that have no real mountains or local skiing culture of their own (apart from indoor slopes). So it’s fair to say, that most of our visitors and clients are non-local skiers looking for some guidance in ski selection and fully trust our reviews and comments – there is no chance of a quick demo before purchasing.
We are, of course, not the only website that publishes ski reviews. There are several forums, web shops, and outdoor websites that have them too. And youtube, of course, is loaded with ‘reviews’ too (most of them just list specs and offer no real appreciation of the performance on snow, though, other than what the brochure says). Luckily, there are some exceptions.
There is one factor, however, that cannot be ignored. 80% – maybe more – of all written or video ski reviews are North American. In itself, this is not a problem. They’re in English and therefore reach a wide global audience. But American skiing and ski culture are quite a bit different from European ski culture. Or maybe they aren’t, but the skis in review and the entire frame of reference are quite different from European (Alpine) skiing.
The main differences are the amount and type of snow (especially in the Western half of North America, where most reviews are from), and the approach to skiing other types of terrain besides the marked and groomed runs. The latter – groomers – is definitely the European default. In fact, anything off the groomers is technically off-piste and therefore not necessarily safe (in terms of signage, obstacles, avalanches), patrolled, or covered by insurance.
This does influence the skis that are in review. In American reviews, you really have to look hard to find any ski narrower than 80 mm underfoot in reviews. Most of them start around 88 mm in waist width – as a ‘hard snow ski’. For reference: in Europe, that would be considered too wide for most recreational skiers, unless they do venture off-piste from time to time or are ski patrollers in a snowy place like Verbier or Tignes or something. Obviously, European skiers ski wider skis as well, but not a 100+ mm ski as a day-to-day allrounder. As a freeride-specific ski, sure.
All is relative
If you like wide skis with a stiff flex and some rocker to help you get through the crud or bumps (in stead of proper technique) – have a blast. But calling a 104 mm wide freeride ski with tonnes of rocker and early taper ‘the best carver on icy hardpacked snow ever’ (yes, I have seen that quote in that context) is ridiculous. Perhaps compared to other skis in that width or category.
On icy hardpack, a narrow ski (actually narrow, 65-70 mm let’s say) with hardly any or just no rocker at all, with a good tune and extended sidecut would definitely be a better carver. If you ski them right, they’re just as good when the runs start to deteriorate and get bumpy. This kind of objectivity is hardly found in American reviews. If you find reviews of these kinds of skis at all.
Most of the ski reviews one can find online are American. Most skis reviewed online are viewed from an American perspective. In itself, nothing wrong with that. The problem occurs, however, when those skis in American reviews are bought by Europeans that don’t first convert or translate them to the realities of skiing in Europe.
I have seen quite a few consumers disappointed with their purchase because we don’t have Utah champagne powder here. In fact, they only ski outside the groomers only twice a season. The other days, they ski behind their kid on a small hill. Try getting a set of Bonafides through each turn without the speed or power to bend them. ‘But they said these were the most versatile skis you can buy!’. For that professional skier maybe, who skis 100 days a year, in variable snow, at high speeds, and probably has a shed with 4 other pairs of skis at home.
My point: be real, look at what you really will be doing during your skiing days. And remember: the skiing culture, snow conditions, frame of reference, and type of skiing may be very different in America, compared to the Alps.