Hurrah, in today’s post I find an invitation to the WorldSkitest (abbreviated to WST). I’m really looking forward to two super test days at the beginning of April in St. Johann Alpendorf. This is the second time I’ve had the chance to take part in this extraordinary ski test.
The WST is not a normal test, as you might be familiar with run by a sports rental shop or a ski manufacturer, it’s quite different in many ways. For a start – and this is the most striking characteristic – all skis are the same colour black. Therefore, I don’t know which skis I’m actually testing. The other thing is, in the space of one morning I can test and compare models from 10 well-known ski manufacturers. I ski each model just once and rate it after each run. As we ski on a specially cordoned off test slope, I can really test the skis and make fast turns.
After each run I hand in the rating form and ski back to the exchange station. There a WST member of staff adjusts my bindings, here too the manufacturers have no influence. So it’s as objective as it gets.
The group of testers taking part in the WorldSkitest is a colourful bunch, at the exchange station I meet up with Olympic winners, World Champions, active and former top athletes as well as international journalists and hobby skiers. It’s really cool sitting next to test manager, Franz Klammer on the lift or chatting to World Champion Nicole Schmidhofer at the exchange station.
A day at the WorldSkitest – a tight time plan and no sign of boredom
After a pleasant journey and checking in to the hotel I attend the briefing. The WST starts with a warm welcome from the organiser Gerhard Brüggler and his team. The atmosphere is friendly and I see many familiar faces. Gerhard gives us important information regarding the course of events and the programme for the following day. After an evening meal together I say good night and head off to bed, as the next few days are sure to be strenuous.
Wednesday – the first test day
I’m already sitting at breakfast by 6.00 am. I’m enrolled in the first test group and test the models of the category Ladies High Performance. Together with other testers in the first test group I head up the mountain, where we’re expected by the WST Team. Everything is prepared, around 140 pairs of black neutralized skis – today a total of 7 categories will be tested – are ready and waiting in the exchange station. My name is called and I receive my first sheet of paper with the number 501 on it. I head off in the direction of the exchange station and stand by the skis with this number. Right away Lukas from the WST team approaches me with a friendly grin and adjusts the bindings for me. The first test run can begin. I make the first turns in the snow and I’m amazed – a very smooth model with great edge grip. I’m curious to see what variations there are between the different skis. After each run the following criteria have to be rated:
- how does the ski perform on long turns
- and on short turns, do they give a smooth performance
- does the edge grip
- what overall impression does the ski make
I finish my test run, complete the rating form and hand it in to Christine and Marie. They have written down a new ski for me. I ski back to Lukas and the pattern is repeated – a total of 11 times. As the first run is a so-called warm-up run, I have to repeat it again at the end. After around three hours intensive testing without pausing – so as not to hinder the test flow, I’m looking forward to a break. Now the SnowStyle ratings are on the agenda. All the skis, which are the same colour black in the exchange area, are presented in their original design. During the SnowStyle rating the skis have to be rated according to their appearance. That’s even more difficult for meJ. When all the skis are painted black I don’t even to consider, I only have to note the performance characteristics. But when the skis are lined up next to each other and each is more attractive than the next, it’s not quite so easy. Per category I have to pick out a favourite. At the end gold, silver and bronze are awarded in each category.
After refreshments at a ski hut, I spend the afternoon exploring this wonderful ski area plus the spa in my hotel, before heading off feeling nicely relaxed to the WorldSkitest FashionShow in the evening. I’m really looking forward to it and it’ll be interesting to see which “must haves” will be presented this year. Around midnight I fall into bed exhausted and I’m relieved that tomorrow I’ve been allotted the second test group. Meaning I can have a lie-in, as I’m not due on the mountain until 10.00 am
I review the day’s events, before falling asleep tired, but happy. Tomorrow’s sure to be as exciting and strenuous as today …
Photo credits: Ulrike Winter