What We Learned This Year

By: Jackson Hogen

Published: March 31, 2020

What we learned this year is the fragility of everything we thought of as permanent. But that’s a topic for a future Revelation, when we all have more perspective than is possible during a humanity-wide crisis.

Going into this season, our concerns were less existential. Just in case you care to spend some of your obligatory down time reviewing the glistening prose expended over the past 7+ months in service to a deeper understanding of all things related to Alpine skiing, here’s a compendium of the 33 previous Revelations.   I also composed seven Short Swings, bite-sized morsels of information more suitable to the short attention span endemic to the digital age.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – In the season’s first Revelation, I vowed to resurrect the FIND function, linking Realskiers’ reviews to a network of specialty shops.

What’s the Big Deal? – Realskiers.com adds a Value Rating to every Recommended ski review. I list the Top Ten Bargains in the second Short Swing of the season.

Why Wide Skis Aren’t Good for Your Knees – A summary of the research presented in a lecture by Prof. John Seifert at a PSIA conference.

The State of the Ski Market – In Part I of this two-part overview, I lament the many ways current ski gear has been dumbed-down to suit an untrained public.

The State of the Ski Market, Part II – Standards have played an important role in improving the safety of Alpine skiing; we ignore them at our peril.

The Making of a Skier, Part IV – In which I recount an episode from my first year working in the field for Salomon.

The Making of a Skier, Part V – The second half of my inaugural year at Salomon, which set the table for the career in product management that followed.

Why We Review Non-FIS Race Skis – The simple answer: because we can. These are the best skis made for the recreational skier. Every serious skier should own one.

Women’s Market Update – A big-picture overview of the made-for-women market.

Women’s Market Update II – A model-by-model breakdown of how every important women’s ski is (or isn’t) adapted for a female skier.

Best Skis of 2020 – We pick our favorites in every category we examine, which this season happened to be the top-scoring model in each genre.

The Lost Kingdom of Carving Skis – One of the most-read Revelations of the year, about how the shaped-ski revolution failed to turn America into a nation of carvers.

Realskiers.com Wins First Stump-Bertoni Prize – Long overdue award recognizes Realskiers.com for its overall Excellence. Unfortunately, the associated honorarium was not forthcoming, leaving a hole in the budget for Realskiers members to fill.

When Should You Replace Your Boot Liners? – When does it make sense to replace stock liners with one of the custom options?

2020 Powder Skis – My reviews of Powder skis are completely subjective, as I’m usually the only test pilot. To assist model selection, I helpfully break the genre into 3 bundles.

Tip Your Bootfitter – I can only hope this empathy-inducing plea for alms was strategically posted on ski shop walls across America. Everyone’s entitled to hope…

On Drifting – An excerpt from Snowbird Secrets, On Drifting is an ode to the essential, underappreciated art of un-carving.

The Making of a Skier, Part VI – In which I sketch the outline of my rocket ride up the ranks at Salomon.

The Dropout Guide’s to Skiing – The Winter 2020 edition of America’s Best Bootfitters.com – Powered by Masterfit – Buyer’s Guide in Partnership with Realskiers.com, Insider Intel From Pros That Know can tout the longest title in online magazine history, along with tons of useful info tailored to the needs of skiers who dropped out for a few seasons.

A bittersweet memory from my last season at Snow Country. The sweet you can see crowded around me. The bitter part was the fact that I’d shredded by left ACL two days earlier. Counterclockwise from lower left: Kato McBride, Kristin Lignell, Kristi “Magic” Brown, yours truly, Kim Vandeweghe and Tina Vindum. Photo by Larry Prosor.

The Making of a Skier, Part VII – There was no better time in my life than when Snow Country Magazine was running on all cylinders. I humbly nominate my entire test team as the most talented – and photogenic – ever assembled.

The Big Squeeze – Ski makers are under intense pressure to keep a cap on price while their costs keep rising.

Coping with Success – Blizzard was already holding a hot hand. How does a brand re-configure a winning formula without wrecking what made it great?

It Wouldn’t Hurt to Take a Lesson – You can’t call yourself an expert if your game can’t travel off-trail. If you want to ski the whole hill, it wouldn’t hurt to take a lesson, especially from the mogul master, John Clendenin.

An Embarrassment of Riches – My not entirely accurate predictions about the degree of model turnover we’d see next season.

Why Skiers Are Better Than Everyone Else – In which I explore the various reasons why skiers are better than everyone else.

Test Time! – I inform America that the Realskiers Test Card app is ready to go. I was at least partially correct, but the app had serious flaws. They’re supposedly all fixed now, but as there’s nowhere to ski this falls under the heading of Scant Consolation.

Who Needs New Ski Prep? – The sorry truth is that precious few skis leave the factory so well prepared that they don’t require some attention before skiing.

The Glitch in the System – Many people – and by that I mean “men” – misrepresent their real-world ability, setting off a chain of events that leads them to the wrong ski.

A Skier’s Guide to Time Travel – Skiing offers a portal to the eternal, where time no longer holds sway. A primer.

Stuff Skiers in the Know Should Know About – I muffed a couple of details – like the Leki glove model name, mea culpa – but errata aside, these are all items real skiers should be aware of, even if they have no reason to adopt them.

On Self-Expression – Another chapter cum meditation from Snowbird Secrets. I was lucky enough to sneak in a visit in early March – with my son, no less – before all hell broke loose.

The Making of a Skier, Part VIII – When filmmaker Greg Stump was overwhelmed by all his options as he was fashioning the finishing segments of Legend of Aahhh’s, I sent him a slew of song lyrics. I still don’t know why.

Silver Linings – When the shadow of the coronavirus fell across the ski world, it extinguished all product testing, paring test data to the bone. A lone silver streak in this sorry scenario is that in 2020 ski reviews, narrative will carry more weight than numbers.

The time has come for this torrent of fresh content to shrink to a trickle. Try not to let this disorienting news cause you to lose faith in mankind.

The year ahead will be hard for everyone. Even as we are all separated, we’ve never had more reason to pull together. In such times as these, hope is not enough. We must act as one family, the family of man.

Ciao for now,

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