There are two kinds of ski reviews: the ones that sell skis and the ones that help the customer choose which skis to get. The vast majority of ski reviews found online – whether it’s in written articles, videos, on forums – fall in the first category. They mostly start off with some variation on ‘they don’t make bad skis anymore’ and then go on pointing out the strengths of the ski. By doing so, the review nicely fulfills that first statement about bad skis not being made anymore.
But do these reviews actually help the customer? I don’t think they really do. Most discussions about skis start off with something like ‘there are so many skis to choose from, which one should I get?’. A perfectly reasonable and relatable starter question. Our first reaction would be to ask the customer what kind of skier (s)he is. And what does (s)he look for in the new ski?
Only when we have a better picture of the skier and his preferences (and what sacrifices he is willing to make in terms of performance – there is not one ski out there that does everything equally well), then the elimination process starts.
Answer the question, please!
The aim is not – as most selling reviews do – to prove that there are no bad skis on the market. Or, indeed, to just point out the strengths of one ski. The aim is to help the customer choose the best ski for him/her from a bunch of options. This means pointing out the differences between skis, not just listing what they’re good at.
If I were to just say ‘well this ski is very good, and that one too and the other one also’, that would not do a lot for a confused customer. In fact, I would find it quite reasonable if the customer would reply ‘That’s all very nice, but how does it help me? My question still is: which one should I get?’ The customer would be right.
To narrow down the list, one always needs to focus on the sacrifices of each ski and the differences between them. What is the customer willing to give up? Note here, that there are skis that do equally well in a certain set of conditions, but are very different in the way they’re achieving that.
In the 86-90 mm all-mountain segment, for example, there are heavy, burly skis that strongly bust through a bit of soft snow and crud. There are also skis in that segment that light-footedly ski over and around soft snow and crud. So, you might say that both are very capable of handling those conditions. And that is what a ‘selling review’ would highlight.
However, that’s only one of the factors that we need to consider. The terrain and type of snow a ski is capable of handling. The second factor is the skier, the customer. Which style does he or she prefer? Busting through, or playfully hopping around and over soft bumps and cruddy runs? In my view, that is what determines which of these two skis I would recommend. The fact that both skis can handle those conditions just gets them on the list in the first place. But it’s the different ways in which they achieve that – the differences between the skis – that supports the final choice.
That is why we often make quite bold statements in most of our ski reviews. We tend to highlight specific characteristics of skis rather than just highlighting strengths. That way, we try to help the customer in choosing that ski over another. Because that is the point. Isn’t it? For us at least. Since we’re not trying to sell skis, but advise on which ones to get.