Shopping for downhill skis? Here's some help from the crew at REI:
1. Take a look at REI's new video guide to choosing skis. It delivers a nice overview of the basic considerations that go into selecting the right ski for your ambitions.
2. Read the REI Expert Advice article How to Choose Downhill Skis. I wrote the thing, and it is rich in details. That's polite talk that means the article is pretty long (sorry), but my goal was to address just about any question a shopper could ask and have an answer already in place. Check it out and see what you think. I talked to a lot of people and tried my best to provide the most widely accepted thinking on all the topics addressed.
3. Ask other skiers. REI stores are staffed with some of the brightest, most informed snowhounds I've met (like the guys from REI Salt Lake City I interviewed for my how-to-choose article). I dropped in on one of REI's ski specialists, Dan King-of-the-Mountain Gilbert, and asked if any particular items had caught his eye this season. Lots, he said. Here are 2 of his faves:
Men's Atomic Smoke Ti (with bindings). At $599, it's a great all-mountain find that skis like a much pricier ski, Dan says. You'll find it on the cover of Ski Magazine's 2011 Buyers Guide, labeled as the "best value in men's skis." It's built for speed, Dan tells me, but holds up nicely if you stray from the groomers. Experienced skiers should dig it. The magazine's take: "Only the most demanding expert will want more ski."
Women's Line Celebrity 90 (without bindings). A terrific crossover ski at $449.95, Dan tells me. The wide-ish waist of this directional twin tip allows it to perform nicely on- or off-piste, and its low weight and standard camber makes it easy to turn. Ski Magazine lists it among its top 5 picks in its Women's Mixed Snow category for 2011, with high marks for flotation, forgiveness and crud performance.