When our usual methods of capturing data collapsed due to the pandemic, professional testers stepped up to fill the void
If you ever saw footage of early-1970’s mogul contests, you understand the expression, “linked recoveries.” This turn of phrase sums up my repeated attempts to capture coverage of the primary players in the 2021 women’s Alpine ski market.
Before we learned coronavirus wasn’t street jargon for overindulging in imported beer, I had a plan in place. I’d paid handsomely to have my test card app refreshed just in time for the major western trade fairs at Mammoth Mountain, CA and Snow Basin, UT, which convened on overlapping dates.
The app was a fiasco. On some sign-in screens, all letters were white on a white background, a new method of cyber security. In some cases, the new app would recognize an old user, only to bar him or her access. Many Apple users couldn’t log on and as far as I know, the Android version never worked at all.
The app’s self-immolation was a setback, but I commissioned repairs while moving on to Plan B. I contacted all reps and arranged to have selected models corralled at Mt. Rose after all demo events were over but well before the area would close. I was at Mt. Rose Friday, March 13 specifically to nail down logistics and recruit testers.
Plan B didn’t survive the weekend.
I quickly distilled my options to three:
- Curse fate, blame Higher Powers and limit my women’s coverage to a brief text, riddled with mea culpas, as to why there isn’t any.
- Write a bucket of swill, aka brochure copy, and call it good. But it would be yet another guy telling women what they’re supposed to like. Won’t fly.
- Recruit a new team from the only women who had skied next year’s gear, the test jockeys who toil in R&D, developing new women’s models.
Turning Sour Grapes into Wine
You know what they say about desperate times. I would have to toss aside my well-honed methodology and facilitate a direct, women-to-women forum. As I explained to the product managers who would have to put this ball in play, I’d provide the theater, the publicity, the lighting and the audience; you supply the script and cast.
The biggest hairball to swallow in Plan C was the loss of third-party objectivity. Instead of trying to suppress bias, as in a normal test, baked-in prejudice would be an essential feature of the 2021 process.
The compensation for this concession would be paid in gold: the behind-the-scenes observations of women engaged in product development.
Take a look at their credentials. This last-minute, seat-of-the-pants, pulled out of the ether women’s test roster is comprised of A-list talent. If I start naming names, I won’t be able to stop so I’ll let you check them out here.
Given their provenance, there was never any question our 2021 women’s ski reviews wouldn’t include test data, as there’s none to reference. So, no rankings, scores or grades, no model-à-model comparisons of any kind.
Instead, readers get to experience the ski under review through the eyes of someone who knows it intimately. This test crew has dedicated years, sometimes decades, to improving both women’s skis and women’s skiing. They are straight shooters who know whereof they speak.
Women who want to get the unfiltered, inside skinny will find it in these reviews, composed by women for women. Realskiers is very happy to have played the role of midwife in bringing them to our readership.
Former US Ski Team member Kaylin Richardson was one of 19 female professionals who provided their personal impressions of 21 different 2021 women’s models.