Travel Skiing: Which way should you turn?

Thinking of buying yourself some skis? It helps to know what questions you'll be asked

Choosing a new pair of skis is becoming more and more like taking an exam. There's so much studying involved, for a start: this year's Snow+Rock catalogue offers 65 different models - they're all suitable for someone, but which is the one for you? And if you haven't been concentrating recently, most of what you know about skis is hopelessly out of date. You can forget all that stuff about traditional models: the carving ski - wide at the tip and tail, narrow below the boot - is the only kind that matters now.

The trick with exams, of course, is knowing what questions will come up. And I can help there.

Not only did I join Snow+Rock's annual ski test in April, at St Christoph in Austria, where all this season's new models were evaluated by 80-odd members of the company's staff; I also found out how the staff test customers coming into the shops to buy skis.

The first tip? Don't express a preference for the make of ski your instructor recommended last season: ski instructors are notoriously conservative - they've been using tradtional skis for years, and don't see why their expertise should be devalued by carving skis, which are both easier and more fun to use. Don't say, when asked about the last pair of skis you bought, that they were red ones, or, worse still, that they were slalom skis; even if the latter is true, dyslexia is so common among skiers that it will be assumed that they were in fact made by Salomon. And don't quote the old chestnut that the better the skier, the longer the ski. There used to be some truth in this, but with the advent of carving skis, which are worn comparatively short, it causes sniggers in the back of the shop.

Be prepared instead to answer honestly the following questions. For how long have you been skiing? (Answer this one in total weeks skied, because someone who says "for 10 years" may have skied for only one week, 10 years ago.) Which other active sports do you do? (The answer gives a clue to the way you ski, on a spectrum from finesse to ferocity.) What is your idea of a great day's skiing: is it powder all the way, smooth skiing on-piste, or riding the bumps? Do you have high aspirations, and need skis that you will grow into? And what are your vital statistics - budget, height and weight? (Don't lie about the last, because it is critical to the adjustment of your bindings.)

Your answers will determine which category of ski is suitable for you. In the Snow+Rock ski test, the different models were categorised - to compare like with like - and then ranked according to their suitability for a spectrum of skiers from beginners (level one) to experts (level 10). Testers pounded down the same slope at St Christoph, in consistent snow conditions, to ensure a figurative level playing-field for each pair of skis. After every three runs, they headed into the pits - literally, since the manufacturers' representatives dug themselves into the snow so that eye-level adjustments could be made to binding settings - for a quick ski-change.

This year, there were clear favourites in some categories. Among the mid-range carving skis, the Head Cyber Cross TI, the K2 Merlin Three and the Fischer Revolution Super Carve all did well on the test; for expert carvers, the Atomic Beta Carve 9.26 and the Salomon Axendo were highly rated; and among the competition giant slalom skis the clear winners were the Atomic Beta Race 10.26 and the Rossignol 9X.

But the real stars of the test were the new free-ride skis. Wider overall than other carving skis, but still with the characteristic waisted shape, they cope with all snow conditions both on- and off-piste. They are the hottest skis in the US and were in great demand among the testers, particularly the Salomon X-Scream and Atomic Beta Cruise 9.22 models. How do you qualify for them? Cheating at an exam is not to be recommended, of course, especially if it leads to buying unsuitable skis; but I did question Dion Taylor, Snow+Rock's equipment manager, about the kind of customer to whom he would recommend free-ride skis. His answer was: "Someone who says he wants to develop his off-piste abilities, have the whole ski area as his playground, and get to the bottom first." Now you know.

Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff