BackCountry Magazine Ski Test

| March 30, 2009 | 7 Comments
Although I suspect my invitation to the annual Backcountry Magazine ski test extravaganza was a clerical error, I took them up on it anyway as it was a good excuse to drink Adam “Howie” Howard’s beer and ski at Powder Mountain.  I’ve been involved with many ski tests over the years, but lately have been developing an inferiority complex about them as I tend to like skis that everyone else hates.  It’s kind of like being picked last for High School basketball, which I also eventually got over.
Craig Dostie element as he engages in his Life Calling of doinking with telebindings to work.  This pair just needed a little extra loving from the #10 Channel Lock pliers.

Craig Dostie in his element as he heeds his Life Calling of doinking with telebindings. This pair just needed a little extra loving from the #10 Channel Lock pliers.

Pow Mow is a totally rocking little area.  If it was 10-degrees steeper overall it would be unbeatable.

Pow Mow is a totally rocking little area. If it was 10-degrees steeper overall it would be unbeatable.

This year was no different. We missed the first two days, which were epic powder snorkle fests and, predictably, the phatties ruled the roost.  As we were unloading a portion of the 200+ pairs of skis that were available, I was first amazed at how big, phat and heavy they all were, then dismayed to hear that these were actually the skinny schwagg that needed to be tested and the true fatties were under lock & key as they were all anyone wanted to ski on, but had been already thoroughly tested.  (After taskmaster Drew Pogge left on the third day, the fatties leaked back out.)

The 2009-10 version of skinny little wimpy skis.  The big bouys were under lock & key.

The 2009-10 version of skinny little wimpy skis. The big bouys were under lock & key.

Of all the ski tests I’ve been to, this one was by far and away the most fun as they allowed plenty of time for it (4-5 days), invited a cross-section of 40 plus people and held it at a resort which was very testing friendly with easy access and good terrain.  The knee-deep dump of Utah pow didn’t hurt either.

Jon Howard (left) and Adam Howard (right), who are unrelated, but partners (in a business sense) in Backcountry Magazine, which is based in Vermont.

Jon Howard (left) and Adam Howard (right), who are unrelated, but partners (in a business sense) in Backcountry Magazine, which is based in Vermont.

Craig Dostie holding up a bit of history - an early copy of "Le Chronical du Couloir" which later turned into Couloir Magazine, which was eventually bought by Backcountry Magazine, who was hosting dinner and the ski test.  Craig has copies of all except the first three issues of the Chronicle, and when I asked him if he thought there might be some hidden away somewhere in the world, he said "I doubt it.  I mean, I was the publisher and I didn't bother to keep any!"  He produced a great magazine which inspired many people (including myself) and left an amazing legacy.

Craig Dostie holding up a bit of history - an early copy of "Le Chronicle du Couloir" which was the forerunner to Couloir Magazine. Craig has all except the first three issues, and when I pondered whether anyone, anywhere might have them, he said "I doubt it. I was the publisher and even I didn't bother to keep them!" Craig put out an excellent magazine which inspired many people (including myself) and left an amazing legacy.

I made a point of skiing the phattest fatties I could get my boots into as well as reverse camber, elongated noses, pin tails, no sidecut, ultra long (195cm), boutique skis and mainstay manufacturers.  I stayed away from skis and brands I was familiar with as I ski those all the time. I thought I was doing pretty well to get 4-6 pairs in per day until I met Jamie, who was on her seventh pair by lunch-time and had racked up over 31 pairs in the last few days.  I don’t know what she ultimately liked best, but was impressed with her and many other people’s diligence.  Between this sort of enthusiasm and the volume of people, the published results should be very comprehensive.

Jamie pausing for 23 seconds to eat lunch before hopping on another pair of skis.  Between the two of us, we tested over 50 pairs of skis.  I did seven, and, uhmmm, she did the rest.

Jamie pausing for 23 seconds to eat lunch before hopping on another pair of skis. Between the two of us, we tested over 50 pairs of skis. I did seven, and, uhmmm, she did the rest.

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Category: Events

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (7)

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  1. mark says:

    So the problem I have with really fat skis is waxing. Or rather scraping. I can’t bring myself to buy a snowboard scraper even if it would be a more appropriate tool for Dug’s megawatts.

    I aspire to one day be invited to a ski test.

  2. JW says:

    Did you do any boot testing? Were the Dalbello Viruses there? If so…whats the word on them?

  3. Andrew says:

    The Virii (plural of Viruses?) were there and I did get a chance to ski on them. Overall they had some cool features, but personally I felt like they needed a lot more forward lean as I felt like I was standing flat on my heels. Could have been the bindings, or perhaps the pair I tested didn’t have the fwd lean adjusted properly, but they virtually felt straight up.

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi Mark – maybe next year we can go together, as long as you let me cheat off of your homework/score card. :)

  5. Larry says:

    I don’t aspire to getting invited anymore. The skis are all so fat they have no relevance in the usual skiing I do (my fats are now considered mid fats at best…). Even the skinny skis are borderline too fat. Good thing race skis still exist or I would be in real trouble.

  6. JW says:

    What about the fit and flex of the viruses? Hopefully low volume like the Kryptons they are modeled after.. Thanks

  7. Andrew says:

    Hi JW – As a Scarpa guy, I thought the Viruses fit just about the same as a Spirit 3 type of boot, and I have a narrow(ish) foot. It is a bit of an unfair comparison as my scarpas have been perfected fitted by Dennis Maw at Black Diamond and the Viruses were a half size too big and totally unfitted for my foot, but I felt like they held me in well and I could wiggle my toes while having my heel held securely.

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