The SIGB Ski Test is an annual event that brings together the brands, retailers and media connected with the UK ski industry for 5 days of on-the-mountain product testing in the beautiful Austrian Tyrol.
Keuhtai was our ground zero and provided us with great snow cover, various conditions and terrain, with runs ranging from mellow groomers to thrilling off-piste descents, including parks, trees, bumps and the odd bit of powder too. 836 skis from 20 different brands, as well as boots, helmets, goggles and various other clothing and equipment were on offer for our team of 7 testers. Here are 10 key things they came away with...
1. A Sleeping Giant Awakens
Nordica has been a brand that hasn't seen much limelight recently but winter 2016/17 will change that. Some awesome skis and the highly anticipated launch of the totally new Speedmachine boots will get this sleeping Italian giant back to the top. Freeride skis like the Enforcer/Santa Ana set the bar for all condition performance; all mountain rides, the NRGY 90 and Belle 88, remain the skis to beat for all round skiing; and the new Dobermann range resets the standards for piste results. All done with a nod to value as well.
2. No Bad Skis – Just The Right Ones
Testing only reinforced that there aren't bad skis. It's all about choosing the right ski. And that's why we place so much emphasis on our testing, so we can make sure we have the right choices for all the different skiers and terrain, alowing us to help select exactly what you need.
3. Good Foundations and DPS
Talking of good skis! DPS are leading the way in creating all condition skis that twist the rules when it comes to shapes and construction, and their latest line cements this reputation. The Foundation series of models are some of the most fun, useable and still high-performing all mountain and freeride skis we've ever tried. The smiles on our faces on the morning of the DPS testing said A LOT about how good these skis are.
4. Powder Days Rule
Not too much needs to be said here… a day of skiing fresh snow under blue skies reminded us just how amazing skiing is. No matter what gear you're on this is hard to beat; but get the latest, best kit and then things get really special!
5. Talk Of The Test…
Armada have been making skis for more than 10 years now, gaining a loyal band of followers along the way, including Ellis Brigham. They're a company that make innovative skis that really do work. At the test this year there was plenty of buzz about how well they were testing, and this wasn't just the freestyle skis, the hype was about the all new ARV series and the more performance orientated Invictus range. Watch out big brands.
6. The Season Of BC?
There's been lots of talk for a number of years but with the sheer number of quality products and the staggering lightness of many of the items, 16/17 will be the season that touring, freetouring and freeriding start to hit the mainstream in the UK. Standout products like the Arc'teryx Procline boots and DPS Wailer 106 Tour1 skis grabbed our attention and, along with the usability and affordability of reworked favourites, will open people's minds to the possibilities (touring on home turf anyone?).
7. British Is Best
Every year the ski tests, and trade shows held in advance, reflect that the British Ski Industry is one of the most well organised in Europe. It may not be the biggest but everyone involved is super enthusiastic, passionate and keen. Ever year the reps and sales managers from the factories are left in awe about how professional we are and it's just one of the reasons why we're a key partner in developing new products and providing feedback.
8. Still Got Soul
The Rossignol Soul 7 sets the standard for accessible, fun off-piste performance, and now after 3 years it's had an upgrade. This new HD version offers the same easy, playful feel and adds a bit more bite and power without affecting weight or usability. Still going to be a top-selling, benchmark ski for very good reason.
9. Roxy Reveal Their Style And Substance
Roxy are well known as a brand with a strong fashion history, but next season you'll see them gain a winning a reputation for some amazing skis. Their freeski range is topping the charts for fun and performance thanks to impeccable handling and lively, poppy response. A very pleasant surprise, and great value too.
10. Boots To The Fore
We don't just test skis, we also take many runs in various boots and we can safely say that next season is going to be a very interesting one for boots with some exciting new products and updates coming from Atomic, Salomon, Head, Fischer, Nordica and Tecnica. The focus is on reducing weight and still offering impressive custom fit options.
As always thanks to Marcin Wiklik for the amazing images, the beautiful Tirol for the scenery and conditions, and the wonderful AlpinLodges Kuehtai for hosting us so warmly in a such a great place – we highly recommend a trip!