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Are ski reviews full of bull?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I am probably what most of you would call beginner/intermediate. Maybe 15 weeks of trying to ski at various places, with maybe 5-8 instructor sessions. Can parallel ski and carve quite well. Can do blues and some reds...

I've had various skis and, well, obviously, all work the same way. You push on the right one and you turn left Smile Sometimes it is a lot easier to ski than at other times, especially when the slope is a bit churned up. I ski only on piste.

Last week I rented some Stockli TRT SC Laser, and quite short at 156cm (I am 175cm). These skis sell for €1300! But it cost only €40 to rent them for the day.

If you read reports of these skis on social media, and the reviews, you get the impression that anyone less than an expert is just going to go out of control and smash himself up really fast.

Well, they are brilliant skis! Really easy to carve, slow or fast, and much more stable than the €600 Atomic-MR-something I used before.

I reckon a lot of the stuff in the manufacturer descriptions, and the reviews which are probably mostly paid for by the manufacturers (directly or otherwise), is to do with product differentiation. You build a range of skis of different quality (torsional stiffness, etc, plus of course different quality bindings) and you sell them at different prices. You could not possibly say that the top model is suitable for beginners, because nobody is going to pay say 1.3k for a "beginner ski". At each stage of the product line-up you have to massage the correct ego.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Generally I agree that reviews can often be tainted by advertiser bias - have you ever read a bad review? And many manufacturers have too many models etc. What begineers/intermediates don't often realise is that skier weight relative to height makes a big difference so a heavy user (for their height) will need to go up the ability levels to get a ski stiff enough etc.

With regard to the Lasers you tried. Yes, the Laser will ski easy if you ski it in a kids length wink. Assuming you're average weight for your height then try the Laser again in a proper length (170cm or 177cm for an advanced skier) and report back on your findings Toofy Grin
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I am 74kg. What should I have expected?

Sure there are no bad reviews. Every site carries advertising, so a bad review is just not possible. Hence I think they use the beginner ... expert spectrum to grade them, to try to make sure that the right part of the customer base is reached.
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Regarding reviews:

- Read as many as possible

- Look for characteristics that seem consistent across all reviews

- Learn to read between the lines

- Take with a pinch of salt

If you do this, you can get a feel for the overall characteristics of a ski - but it won't tell you whether you will love it or not....but it does help with bringing to your attention what's out there and causing a stir - and making a shortlist, to try, if possible.
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I am trying to work out what was meant by "the Laser will ski easy if you ski it in a kids length". Surely most people look for a ski which is easy to ski?

Why should I go for an "advanced skier" ski if I am not an advanced skier? Is it more macho to have skis which are harder to use?

Googling around, there is plenty written on this topic. In this case it seems to me that a shorter ski in one brand may be better than a longer ski in another (perhaps cheaper) brand, but the reviewers cannot write a review on the former ski suggesting it is easy to use because a ski at that price is not supposed to be used by lower competence skiers.
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I guess what is meant is that a my 11 year old has a pair of 155cm skis. Shorter skis are easier to turn.
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Peter Stevens wrote:
I am trying to work out what was meant by "the Laser will ski easy if you ski it in a kids length". Surely most people look for a ski which is easy to ski?
156cm is very short ski for you, 20cm below head height.

Peter Stevens wrote:
Why should I go for an "advanced skier" ski if I am not an advanced skier? Is it more macho to have skis which are harder to use?

Googling around, there is plenty written on this topic. In this case it seems to me that a shorter ski in one brand may be better than a longer ski in another (perhaps cheaper) brand, but the reviewers cannot write a review on the former ski suggesting it is easy to use because a ski at that price is not supposed to be used by lower competence skiers.


These days I think it's unlikely that there is a bad ski (hence no bad reviews) just a ski which is inappropriate for how you are using it.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Choosing ski length isn't an exact science.

It is based on:

- Ability
- Weight
- Height (to a lesser degree than Ability and Weight)
- Level of aggressiveness
- Where you ski
- Length Preference (within a range)
- Construction Preference ie. Damp or Playful
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Just checked... 156cm is at the base of my nose Smile I am 173cm (just measured it).

That must explain why these "expert level" skis are actually really nice to ski on, even though a beginner is not supposed to use them.
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@Peter Stevens, generally yes, ski reviews include a lot of bull. Similarly reviews for cars, mobile phones, hotels, computer equipment, wine, sports trainers, winter sports holidays...you name it.
Broadly follows a sales & marketing principle of 'don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle'. snowHead
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Let's look at some reviews of this ski:


***

Extremely efficient, the reviewer's loved the ski's stiffness, grip and energy, especially in short turns, and the exceptionally energetic rebound in turn release. The ski literally leaps from turn to turn and you have to be careful not to add too much pressure if you want to stay in control.

The reviewers' enthusiastic comments sum up the ski's qualities very well: "A stiff and enjoyable ski", "Super ski very incisive, grippy, lively and playful", "Turns easily and strong rebound", "Stable at high speed".

Its weaker performance in skid turns and its powerful rebound mean that it's more suitable for a public with good technical skills.

The Laser SC from Stöckli is an excellent choice for technically good to expert riders who want a stiff, incisive and powerful ski.


***

Allround racer

The Stöckli Laser SC is somewhere in between a slalom and a giant slalom ski. The edge hold is superb again as in almost all Stöckli skis. The rigidity of the ski ensures that there's no speed limit whatsoever, but also causes the ski to be less playfull than for example its cross ski brother, the Stöckli Laser SX. The best thing the Laser SC does is high speed medium radius cornering. It feels wonderfull to engage the turn and then keep pushing, prolonging the turn as long as possible. And all the while the Laser SX does not slide 1mm off line.

This ski is made for...
This ski is made for sportive and strong (both fysically and technically) skiers for whom a slalom ski is too extreme, the radius being so small, and a GS ski too one-sided. I tested the Laser SX at a 177cm length (me being 178cm, 85kg), which I found a little bit too much for me. I recommend 5-10cm below your own length. Take this ski too long and it will spoil the fun. And you don't really need the extra length, because the Laser SC is very stiff.

Stöckli about the Laser SC
"This ski has racing quality in its veins. Its polyvalent character makes it a reliable companion on hard and soft pistes as well as for short to medium radii. The Laser SC features both high running smoothness and – thanks to TFC Technology – high safety reserves."

***

This ski is just right for good skiers. Stable but not overpowering. This stiff-tailed ski is designed for perfect grip on-piste. It is best not to leave the groomed runs with this ski. The ski is available from 149 to 177cm. The skis handle like slalom race skis. Perfect edge hold and a small radius ranging from 11,10 m to 16,20 m make them the first choice for short turns.
[ this one makes some sense]


***


Well known to the Proskilab reviewers and often positioned in the top places, the Laser SC from Stöckli is this year's winner of the "Best Ski" medal in the category.

Performance is on the programme. The ski is lively, quickly enters curves and easily deforms without excess. Its holding to curves is excellent, the ski grips, is very precise and the "pressure reactions are easy to find". The rebound at the end of curves is tonic, without being destabilising.

The ski reviewed this year appeared a little more comfortable in skidding than last year. The fluidity of skid/slip/cut transitions was appreciated by the reviewers.

What impressed them most was the stability and comfort of the ski. The SC Laser remains "laid down", in contact with the snow, tracing its curve with serenity and effectively absorbing all the different types of terrain. It evokes a great sense of security and you feel "in control" in all circumstances. It should be noted that it requires little commitment for a ski in this category.

On the other hand, at very high speed, it loses a little of its lustre: the ski becomes less clear and the presses less solid.

It is an excellent ski for this category where we prefer performance, but especially the pleasure the skier experiences. We advise the Laser SC from Stöckli to a wide range of skiers from good to expert levels.


***

Just over a year ago Chord Co, cable mongers to the pace, rhythm and timing cognoscenti, introduced Tuned ARAY to its Sarum range of top ranking interconnects. I got fabulous results with this cable, it’s the first Chord Co cable that has really made an impression, and I have subsequently used Sarum Tuned ARAY analogue and digital interconnects in my reference system. They have superior timing to most cables but avoid the forwardness that often accompanies pace and deliver an unusual degree of musical coherence.
[this is a joke, a review of a 500 quid RCA cable, worth about 2 quid, from the hi-fi business, which filled up with this cr*ap when the CD came along and trashed it]


***

Basically these reviews are some 90% totally meaningless tosh. No wonder some mug like me rents one of these - a 1.3k ski which is supposed to exterminate people like me - and actually gets on well with it, despite it being about 10cm "too short".


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Wed 25-12-19 20:19; edited 1 time in total
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Peter Stevens, did you enjoy skiing on it?
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Yes; it's really great.

But who can say that some 200 quid ski would not feel just the same?

Actually I think one *can* tell. This one is a lot more stable, which perhaps means it doesn't twist around as much, which has to be a good thing.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Peter Stevens wrote:
Yes; it's really great.

But who can say that some 200 quid ski would not feel just the same?
Try some and see what you think? Ski choice is a personal thing, which is why you are right to be wary of ski reviews (I can't remember the last time I read one).

Peter Stevens wrote:
Actually I think one *can* tell. This one is a lot more stable, which perhaps means it doesn't twist around as much, which has to be a good thing.
Indeed. Ski design makes a difference, especially if you ski it well; if you can't tell the difference between to very different skis you probably aren't doing it right.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I can immediately tell the difference between the €600 Atomic ski and the €1300 Stockli ski, under the identical conditions of carving on a freshly groomed piste. The latter wobbles around much less despite being shorter (156 v. 163) and was a lot easier to carve in tight turns. It also went noticeably faster; I have no idea why.

This may be surprising given that both are quite expensive skis.



For added amusement, notice some identical components on the bindings Smile The Stockli bindings, called MC12, have "Salomon" printed on them underneath



Of the four binding options I have seen available, they are the second most expensive one. But clearly the bindings are either made by the same company (with branding options) or the ski makers make them and buy parts from some common supplier.

Here are the two side by side

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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Peter Stevens wrote:
But clearly the bindings are either made by the same company (with branding options) or the ski makers make them and buy parts from some common supplier.

Or Amer Sports (Salomon, Atomic etc.) manufacture bindings and stick them on their own skis, and then rebadge them for Stöckli who only make skis.

Also, the difference in speed could be down to the tune rather than something specific about the ski. Although there may well be a difference to how they handle, as you noted. Did you look at what they are made from? The pricier one is probably actual wood where the cheaper one might be the bits they swept up afterwards wink
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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On the length, in a ski like this, I’d take something 155-160cm so I’d consider the 156cm to be bob on for me. I’m 10cm shorter than you and more than 20kg lighter...
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I didn't delaminate the skis, to see what's inside, no Smile

What is a "tune"?

It is likely that the Stockli had fresh wax on it...
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Peter Stevens wrote:
I didn't delaminate the skis, to see what's inside, no Smile

What is a "tune"?

It is likely that the Stockli had fresh wax on it...

They usually tell you on the website or sometimes in the reviews...

Tune is how sharp the edges are, what angles they’re set to, when they last had a wax. If one was waxed a lot more recently, they you would likely notice the difference back to back.
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On the subject of reviews, Blister did a podcast on other reviewers' reviews, and they didn't pull their punches!

https://blisterreview.com/featured/blister-buyers-guide-pt-2-reviews-of-other-buyers-guides-ep-69
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Both skis were sharp enough to cut your hand if you weren't wearing gloves. Neither had seen a really icy slope.

Re materials, they all claim all sorts of exotic stuff (titanium in the Atomic ski). This means nothing; I work with titanium and it is indeed very stiff for the weight (as well as a b*st*rd to machine) but all depends on how much you use, what shape, and where you put it.

I think the review sites are stuck with this because they have to keep producing shoe-licking reviews. They live 100% totally for the click-through revenue, if not actually also payments from the manufacturers. Running an online community with no income (e.g. donation funded) is not easy. Hosting itself is cheap (snowheads could be hosted for about 50 quid a month) but the admin and server updates, patches, etc costs way more.
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I know someone who does runs ski reviews for a big ski magazine. Most of the stuff they write is incomprehensible gibberish like has been posted above. They do have a methodology though. Get X number of skis and a few testers of different backgrounds - usually at the end of the season when the new demo skis are available and take them somewhere that is still open or that opens a lift specially for journalists. You have a sheet to fill in for each ski with various scores from 1-5 for characteristics. The limitation for the reviewers are the snow conditions they find - which may not show how well a pure off piste ski performs etc. For that you may be better looking at user reviews from people who've done a season on the ski.

Back at the office someone then tries to synthesize the reviews taking into account the backgrounds of the testers. The magazine I know was boycotted by Atomic one year because they were not gushing enough about the new ski range so their souls are not totally bought and paid for. Anyway the reviews are hopefully internally coherent but are often written in a language that is not immediately understandable (to me anyway) and criticisms can be carefully hidden.

So what is the difference between a 200 quid ski and a 1000 quid ski?
1. where it is made, a 1000 quid ski is more likely to have been made in France/Germany/Austria
a 200 quid ski is probably made in a chinese prison facility, European labour costs more. Is the Chinese ski rubbish? Not necessarily although I've never personally liked skiing on chinese skis - too noodly (ok that's a joke).
2. materials:- either for stiffness or weight. The 200 quid ski probably has a foam core, and may lack torsional rigidity. Foam core skis don't last as long. They will have cheaper edges and base materials. The edges may not hold as well and the base materials may be less resistant to contact with rocks. Out of the store, brand new, they may not be bad skis especially on groomed trails but on difficult snow they will reach their limits.

A wood core ski may have a laminated lay up (different wood) with a honeycomb for weight saving, then exotic materials may be used to tune torsional and longitudinal stiffness. You can do a great deal with carbon fiber. Add in some metal for rigidity etc.

However if you are not a charging, powerful skier you may not notice all this effort and as skis get more expensive the differences become marginal.

This doesn't really answer your question about a beginner skiing an expert level ski, maybe as Spyderjon says the short ski was soft enough to ski well for your level, weight etc. After all the ski doesn't actually know how tall you are but does know how much you weigh and how hard you push it.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 26-12-19 0:02; edited 1 time in total
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Are you sure the Atomic ski has Titanium as part of its structure? They usually refer to "Titanal " a brand name derived from titan / aluminium, used to suggest Titanium is a component and hence give it an aura above it's metallurgy.

Nothing wrong with Titanal as such, but it is a high strength aluminium alloy (most likely "Duralumin ") as commonly used in aero industry etc.

Most ski manufacturers use it, or similar when they describe a metal layer or multiples of, in their ski construction.

You'd probably have to compare the edge angles against their respective manufacturer's recommendations to assess whether one particular ski is effectively underperforming it's design aim.
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ski3 wrote:
Are you sure the Atomic ski has Titanium as part of its structure? They usually refer to "Titanal " a brand name derived from titan / aluminium, used to suggest Titanium is a component and hence give it an aura above it's metallurgy.


it is written on the ski topsheet in the pictures: Titanium stabilizer - probably some bit of sheet to stop the ski flopping all over the place as speed.
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@ski3, I wondered that as I have an Atomic ski layered with ‘ti’ which the website claimed was titanium but which others ‘in the know’ would swear was titanal and thus a ‘marketing error’ Confused If it’s written on the ski though, then it really ought to be so, else you’re into false advertising territory. Maybe they are using titanium these days?
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They’re a lot like wine reviews in that a lot of the qualities they describe are completely subjective, and as long as you achieve a base standard of quality everything after that is just trade-offs and personal preference, which makes any test ‘winners’ or scores out of ten pretty pointless. Still read them though.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I've been involved with some magazine reviews of snowboards, long enough ago not to matter in a fast changing industry. It was interesting to compare what was published with what the reviewers thought. In the case of snowboards there are actually bad boards, but not in the advertising-driven world of magazines. There's zero point in reading reviews, and less in paying money for them. That's a poor way to find a ski you like.

If you think about it, the basic concept is fundamentally flawed. What works for me is of no relevance to what works for anyone else. It would be like me recommending which jeans someone should wear based on which ones fit me really well. It's simply not relevant information.


As far as learners being able to ride "expert", well not with race snowboards, although powder boards you probably could, although we'd laugh at you.
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To me, reviews are helpful to make a short list from a long list. More interested in how the ski is classified by the mfr than some random comments by "testers". Bias is rampant, obviously. But then, ya gotta ski 'em yourself. Skis I've lusted for have skied lousy once demoed...lesson learned.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Peter Stevens, if you were to try skiing the 156cm ski for what it was designed for at your size and weight, it would buckle under the power and weight you'd generate.
Don't take this the wrong way but you're nowhere near the ability level of using these skis for what they're built for. When conditions change to really firm and icy, kf you're not driving them from the front and ballancing on the down hill ski, the day wont be so much fun.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Could you elaborate, Mother hucker?

Looking at what others are skiing, I reckon quite a lot of people simply buy (or rent) the best they can afford. Then, if you buy something sufficiently expensive, you cannot blame the equipment for being a bad skier Smile
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My rental skis always labelled 'Ti'. Short for Titanic, as my skiing is a disaster waiting to happen snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Peter Stevens wrote:
Looking at what others are skiing, I reckon quite a lot of people simply buy (or rent) the best they can afford. Then, if you buy something sufficiently expensive, you cannot blame the equipment for being a bad skier Smile

A good analogy is with cars.

An expert driver can hire a basic hatchback, and get the best out of it, but be limited by its built in performance limitations. Alternatively they can hire a super car, and push it to their limit, knowing the car can handle it.

A less experienced driver can hire a basic hatchback and be perfectly happy with it and never approach its limits, or be aware they exist. But put the same driver in a super car, and they will either pootle about using 10% of its performance, or get themselves into trouble when they stray into the skis performance envelope.

The fact that you started this thread and asked the question, means that you understand the differences in skis and what that difference can mean on the piste. I would recommend that you find yourself a high end ski rental shop, and take out their Gold or Platinum rental that allows you to switch skis on a daily basis. Alternatively, try and find a ski test day where you can try multiple pairs of skis on one day, so you can feel the differences between skis on the same piste under the same conditions. With luck when you try one of the pairs it will be like flipping an on switch, and you will mesh with the skis.

As for ski reviews, unless you know the conditions the ski is being tested in, the ability of the skier, and the preferences of the skier, the review won't tell you that much.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
davidof wrote:
ski3 wrote:
Are you sure the Atomic ski has Titanium as part of its structure? They usually refer to "Titanal " a brand name derived from titan / aluminium, used to suggest Titanium is a component and hence give it an aura above it's metallurgy.


it is written on the ski topsheet in the pictures: Titanium stabilizer - probably some bit of sheet to stop the ski flopping all over the place as speed.


It's one of those marketing terms which they feel has an extreme reach and power to sell. None of them will specify what the component of Titanium is, they just allude to its power in their marketing.

To demonstrate, what does " Titanium stabilizer " mean? If you put as a component Titanium dioxide ( common in white pigment use in oil paint) is it used for stabilization of resin compound and colour fade resistance? They want us to believe that we are riding around with a layer of Titanium forming part of the ski's structure, and naturally that's the association made. It simply tracks back to the original post question about BS, not just in reviews but of how the manufacturer wants us to picture what we are being asked to pay money for.

Atomic, of course, are a very competent ski maker, but most of them use a fair degree of artistic licence in marketing their products, naturally. That's fair game in a competitive commercial environment, as to the reality, then I'd doubt the ski has more than a sniff of that content but just enough to justify the legend printed on it.

For any ski to have a whole sheet of Titanium as part of its construction, that would be by far the most expensive single element in the total. Which would most definitely be expressed in the technical specification to make sure everyone knew exactly what was in there. Unless you can clearly see that, then it's all part of the BS.
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Unfortunately that Atomic Redster MR ski is one which was custom made for (I believe) the Sport 2000 chain, and you won't find any detailed spec on it anywhere. On google, some ski outlets in Japan show it... It was a mistake for me to buy it (a year ago) because the value of such a ski, no matter how good, on Ebay is close to zero. The only option is to trade it in at a busy ski resort ski shop which can stick it into its rental pile (it's a good looking ski) and recover whatever they gave you for it in a couple of weeks.
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Certainly a lot of bull floating about in the ski equipment industry. I actually think lower end equipment have more BS associated than high end equipment.

Reading this thread reminds me when all I wanted for xmas where a pair if salomon bbr's....... I bought a pair of line prophets 100 instead, they where not much better Crying or Very sad
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Those BS reviews I posted above were all about the one €1300 Stockli ski, which is pretty high-end.
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I bought a pair of Völkl Slalom carvers last year for an absolute song because the guy said they tried to kill him every time he skied on them, took them out and thought they were absolute pussycats.........
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
And I’m reviewing a pair of DPS Wailers this season for DPS, my review will be 100% impartial, but then I’m not your usual reviewer......
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@KenX, put a Volkl on one foot and a wailer on the other. Quiver killer combo I reckon
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Old Fartbag wrote:
Regarding reviews:

- Read as many as possible

- Look for characteristics that seem consistent across all reviews

- Learn to read between the lines

- Take with a pinch of salt

If you do this, you can get a feel for the overall characteristics of a ski - but it won't tell you whether you will love it or not....but it does help with bringing to your attention what's out there and causing a stir - and making a shortlist, to try, if possible.


This is sensible but I’d stick to 3 or 4 reviews absolute max and then ski some! I’ve bought skis in the past that I wouldn’t have done based on a review alone.
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