The Ski Industries of Great Britain (SIGB) ski test is all about trying next year's skis (and other equipment) and involves 255 individuals from retailers, suppliers and the media; with 862 skis from 21 different brands. It means we can select the very best models to showcase in our range next season.
There are a lot of very good skis for 2015/16, it's just all about selecting the right one for the right skier. This has always been the case, but never before has there been so many good models that stand out in their own right. We knew this already, but there's no harm in reminding ourselves!
1. Can the best be beaten?
Beating the current best models is always difficult, and the Head Magnum and Titan models continue to rule on the harder snow as skis that perfectly mix performance, value and ease of use.
2. A vintage year for all-mountain skis?
There are a lot of very good skis in the 88mm to 100mm waist range. If wider all-mountain skis are your thing then you are in for a treat for the 2015/16 season. Watch out for the Volkl Kendo and Kenja, plus their lighter weight 90Eight, 100Eight and 100Eight W; the very impressive Head Monster skis; updated Blizzard models, and heap of new K2's.
3. The new Carboniferous Period
The use of carbon in skis continues to increase, and not only do these models look very sexy it also adds performance and reduces weight. Great examples are the new Blizzard Bonafide and the Fischer Ranger skis.
4. Seek and ye shall find...
There are always memorable conditions close to the lifts if you are just prepared to go a touch further – even after everything seems tracked out after the latest storm. Having a great photographer helps!
5. Masters of all trades, jacks of none...
It is still possible to make 'mystery' skis, models that seem to work exceptionally well for a range of abilities, offering all these skiers something to enjoy in just one model. Salomon's new X-Max model will be the perfect example of this next year. Effortless handling and control, but plenty of performance too - a high-speed cruiser that is going to make many piste skiers very happy.
6. K2 are back with a bang
K2 are coming back really strongly next year, with some outstanding women's and men's all-mountain skis, including the Pinnacle 95 which is already getting a lot of attention.
7. David & Goliath
The smaller brands are pushing the big guys in terms of design and also skiability, subsequently they appeal to more than just a niche market. Blizzard already rule in the freeride area; Armada have a broader appeal than ever; DPS are making more skiers happier than ever before.
8. Volkl hold on tight
Volkl continue to make some of the most precise and grippy skis on the market, and for 15/16 are adding a new level of usability that broaden their appeal further without turning off the committed fans.
9. The cream of the crop?
Choosing the best ski on the test is almost impossible as there are many worthy contenders, but we're working on a shortlist that includes some classics, a few re-works and some totally new models. We've already spent 5 nights sat round a table with beer and wine to help 'fine-tune' the decision, but we're getting very close to a decision so keep your eyes peeled for our results...
10. British is best!
The British ski industry is amongst the most professional in Europe... honest! It's run by committed enthusiasts who care about what they do and still know how to have fun (in many guises!)
Many thanks to the resort of Kuhtai, the Ski Industries of Great Britain, and our official ski testing partner Visit Tirol who always look after us and make every trip one to remember for all the right reasons.
All photography courtesy of Marcin Wiklik.