The photo above shows a section of the ski wall at Bobo’s taken yesterday, Valentine’s Day, 2022. Note that several models are down to their last size and in a few cases the last of its kind. The light dusting of snow we’re expecting tonight could wipe a few more models off the wall.

The question of when it’s most opportune for the prospective ski buyer to strike is an eternally recurring rite of spring in the ski trade.  Is it better to buy now, defer until later in the spring or wait for the inevitable fall sale?

While this query becomes increasingly common this deep into every ski season, the nature of the answer can vary wildly from year to year.  By almost any measure, the transition from the 2021/22 season to 2022/23 will be different from most seasons in recent memory, in ways that have a direct bearing on the answer to the question of when it’s best to buy.

The Case for Buying Now

This may sound like a particularly dull-witted nugget of wisdom, but if you need skis now, buy them now. In years past, a ski’s street price would gradually whittle down as the ski season slid towards summer. Lately, the Internet has determined when the ski market goes off-price, and to what degree. Neither is the determining factor this season; it’s good, old-fashioned scarcity that’s going to mitigate the market’s natural tendency to discount its remainders.

The leverage the consumer used to exert when ski suppliers as a group would over-produce fades to negligible when the re-supply pipeline constricts to a trickle. Not only does the specialty retailer have little motivation to discount his or her remaining stock, there’s also scant incentive to mount a demo fleet, another major source of late-season discounted skis.

So, if you want to get a new ski during what’s left of the 2021/22 season, not only is there no point in waiting; the longer you wait, the lower your odds of getting what you want. 

If you act this spring, you may not get a hefty discount, but you’ll at least avoid the price increases that will be in effect next fall. While there are notable exceptions, it’s safe to assume the MSRP for any given ski will increase by at least $50.

Another way consumers may feel more of a pinch in their pocket next year is the diminishing value of a phony MSRP, which I remind you, Dear Reader, stands for Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, yet this is rarely the price quoted by the supplier’s own web site.  In other words, the supplier’s suggested street price has become the de facto MSRP.  With pricing pressure all along the supply chain, the trend is to move the real price and the fictive standard closer together, essentially squeezing the perceived savings represented by authorized street price.

If you’re looking for more reasons to buy now while prices are, relatively speaking, low, be reassured that many models will return next season unchanged save for cosmetics. Most of what’s considered new next year are upgrades of existing, already popular model series from Head, Blizzard, K2, Salomon, Stöckli and Völkl. The presence of an upgraded model in the wings encourages a market-wide purge of the current stock, which favors consumers who act now.

Before getting off the topic of what’s coming to ski racks next fall, it bears mention that two brands have completely overhauled their in-resort, off-piste collections for 2023: Rossignol and Fischer. The iconic French brand has both extended and cleaned up its Blackops series (quite a coup from a marketing standpoint) and Fischer may have finally found the formula that optimizes the across-the-board performance of its venerable Ranger series. Also, Atomic has a new Frontside series, Redster Q, importing its race room technology to citizens who want the best tech for groomed conditions.

The Case for Buying Next Fall

If I haven’t made the point already, allow me to reiterate: pickings are getting mighty slim. This means the model you’ve been pining for, while still available in some size or other, is no longer available in your size. Lest you believe this is no big deal, permit me to inform you that size selection has never been more important.  The same ski in two adjacent sizes will not ski the same for any given skier.

 A ski that’s too short will feel skittish and unstable, an undesirable behavior that only gets worse with speed. A size too long will feel balky at the top of the turn and difficult to deflect throughout. And if you get the size wrong, there isn’t anything that can be done to compensate for it.  You can’t get a stiffer boot or move the binding about.  There is no substitute for length.

As I’ve diverted course into the matter of size selection, allow me to present an over-simplified guideline that may help men find a suitable size for an all-mountain ski.  It doesn’t apply to Non-FIS Race, Technical or Frontside categories. Note that this sizing method emphasizes weight over all other criteria

Skier Weight Range    Ski Size Range

160-170:                      160’s

170-180                       170’s

180-190                       180’s

190+                            190’s

The virtue of this method is its simplicity, not it’s pinpoint accuracy. In a nutshell, it says, “if you weigh 180 pounds, get a ski that’s somewhere in the 180cm’s in length.” Bear in mind, the manufacturer knows that the jumbo-sized skier will end up on its longest length, so anything over 190cm’s tends to be stout.

Another consideration in the “wait until the fall” strategy is which category of ski you’re waiting for.  Waiting for a 2022 race or technical ski to show up at a tent sale will be like waiting for Godot; the same could be said for most of the Frontside (75mm – 84mm) genre, where there has been very little model turnover.  The category with the most new entrants next season is Big Mountain (101mm – 113mm), normally the domain of second-pair models that don’t get much sales traction until it snows abundantly. 

This brief but penetrating peroration focused on sizing skis, but mis-sizing a ski is a misdemeanor compared to the capital crime of mis-sizing boots, particularly by long distance. I’m not fond of the practice of buying skis online, but I accept it as one of the burdens of the modern age. Boots are different. Anyone who thinks he or she can buy a boot online, with or without supposedly expert assistance, should go lay down until the so-called “thought” passes. 

At the end of the day, in all instances and at any time of the year, your best chance of getting a deal on a ski that matches you isn’t by applying a sizing formula or asking for divine intervention in length selection, but by presenting yourself in person at your favorite specialty shop. If you don’t have one, get one.  You can find a true specialty shop near where you live or ski by consulting Jackson’s List on