Returns! or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

By: Jackson Hogen

Published: August 20, 2019

On those rare occasions when I leave my writer’s cocoon to engage in some form of social interaction, I’m often introduced as being somehow involved with the ski racket. When asked to clarify my ski connection, I confess to practicing a strange craft known only to the cult that follows such things as “ski journalism.” On a 1-to-10 scale of conversational encouragement, I’d rate my response as a 1, or very nearly content-free.

And so the awkward exchange continues to struggle for survival by launching the inevitable follow-up probe: so, what do you do in the summer?

To which I reply, “I write.”

Jackson in his summer habitat, rearranging every word until all are in the right order.  

If that isn’t enough to stifle any further attempts to pry me open, I begin to spew statistics, which are known to reduce most efforts at small talk to tatters. I inform my interrogator that between May 1 and May 31 of this very year I composed 97 long-form ski reviews, with an average length of roughly 400 words. Each review was accompanied by a variety of product specifications along with data on ten performance criteria, which I proceed to enumerate.

By this point I notice that the eyes of my interlocutor are darting back and forth, searching desperately for rescue. I am just about to explain my unique Power and Finesse ratings when my would-be conversationalist interrupts to inform me of an immanent bladder malfunction requiring immediate attention.

My point is not that I have the social skills of a warthog, but that I wrote all day, every day between May and the end of July. My output included:

  • 181 ski reviews, covering every corner of the Alpine ski market.
  • Brand profiles for every major ski and boot supplier.
  • Links to every boot review on America’s Best Bootfitters
  • A value rating system that identifies the best deals of 2020.
  • Silver Skier Selections, which pinpoints those models best suited to the senior set.
  • Connecting all Recommended models with the specialty shops that carry them.

The final point begs for a brief explanation. It has always been part of Realskiers’ mission to support specialty shops, if for no other reason than without them, the essential art of bootfitting will die. Due to all manner of market forces beyond their control, true specialists are an endangered species. We see it as our duty to help protect them.

This is why all 2020 Realskiers reviews incorporate a FIND function that identifies the shops in the Realskiers and America’s Best Bootfitters network who stock the reviewed model. If you’re serious about your skiing, it’s impossible to overestimate the value of what these shops can do for you.

Before you rush off to harvest the cornucopia of information posted to the 2020 edition of Realskiers, Dear Readers, please be advised we’re only releasing reviews to the public at large for the key commercial categories of Frontside, All-Mountain East, All-Mountain West and Big Mountain, for both men and women.

Coverage of Non-FIS Race skis, Technical models (for men and women) and Powder boards will be released later in the season on our free, public site; meanwhile, all these reviews are available now on our members’ site. Should the suffering induced by deferred gratification prove unbearable, annual subscriptions are a mere $19.95/year.

Fellow skiers who know me well recognize that I’m fond of charitable gestures that require no money and little time. It is in this soulful spirit that I encourage my Dear Readers to promote, promulgate and proselytize the publication of the 2020 edition of America’s Best Powered by Masterfit Buyers Guide in Partnership with The 2020 ABBPbMFBGPR – a rare acronym made more memorable by its lonely, opening vowel – is an indispensable reference for all your skiing friends and family.

You can view or download the 2019 edition here. I’ll send you a link to the 2020 issue as soon as it’s posted. In the meantime, there are 100 Recommended, long-form reviews, replete with all test scores, ready, willing and able to be read right now on the 2020 edition of

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