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Skiing with Sven Hard job of 'Official Ski Tester' yields cool tee-shirt


January 13, 2011
The job itself sounded pretty easy; swing by the shop and pick up skis to test from time to time and let the shop guys know what you thought about the skis. However, once I realized I was "testing" skis instead of just "skiing" on skis I started to feel a bit of the test anxiety that dogged me in college.

That anxiety actually caused me to forget how to ski for a minute, I got off the lift and skied straight off the trail, it was like forgetting how to use the quadratic equation as you walk into an algebra test. I figured I had all day, so I choose to put off the test for a run or two, and instead just went skiing. But I knew I had to eventually stop procrastinating and get to testing, as I didn't want to just return the skis and say, "uhhh, yeah they were nice." I didn't think that would cut it and I didn't want to loose my new job and have to give back my t-shirt.

On the next run I got down to the testing business at hand. First up, how the skis initiate a turn. Here's what happened; I started down the trail looking down at my skis, not really sure why, maybe I thought they were going to do something that I needed to witness. When I looked up I was heading right for a group of kids in a ski lesson. I kept waiting for the skis to start to turn on their own (this is a test after all, I didn't want to influence how the skis performed) but nothing happened. At the last moment I realized that I needed to do something pretty drastic on my own or else I was going to run right through that ski-wee group. That would have definitely gotten me fired from my "official ski tester" job.

In that heroic moment I forgot all about the ski test and put the skis on edge and stood on my downhill ski and avoided that group. Granted I covered most of them with a bit of snow, but I think they recognized my quick thinking and appreciated the fact I didn't just run them over.

Next to the box "Ease of turn initiation"- I checked "poor."

I realized this ski testing was going to be tougher than I'd thought. I hadn't ever "tested" skis before, only skied on them, I was still struggling with how it worked. I wasn't sure how much input I could give the ski before someone might consider it cheating and thus voiding the test. I quickly found that the skis really couldn't do much on their own other than look good on the rack.

I was beginning to feel a bit deflated about the skis I had on my feet. I wasn't sure how they would handle the failing grade they were likely to receive based on their poor performance. I was worried other skis on the wall might laugh at them and call them dumb. I said something to my wife, who also happens to be an "Official Ski Tester," about the poor performance and the concerns I was having.

She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "you're supposed to ski the skis and report back how you like them in the various conditions, how easy they were to turn, how stable they are, etc- not how they do if you stand on them like a crash test dummy and just go down the hill!"

I felt moderately embarrassed. I had completely missed the meaning of being a ski tester, despite walking around wearing the t-shirt and introducing myself to everyone as an official ski tester. However, after her advice I just skied on the skis and found them to be quite enjoyable. Back to the shop and I tried stringing together sentences with the fancy words I've seen in SKI Magazine when they review skis. After I used up all my words, my new boss asked, "but how did they ski?" My answer, "uhhh, yeah they were nice."

At least he let me keep the t-shirt. Oh and the skis- the Rossignol Avenger 82ti, and they really are nice.

Sven Cole is a local skier and writer who will soon need to launder his new t-shirt, as he hasn't taken it off since he got it, much to his wife's chagrin, www.skiingwithsven.blogspot.com

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