This February, the Jans Ski Test Team headed up north to Snowbasin, Utah, for the annual Western Winter Sports Representatives Association (WWSRA) Intermountain Demo. A two-day event, the Intermountain Demo is the yearly gathering of regional brand reps and outdoor retailers for on-snow testing of all things skiing and snowboarding.
The goal for Jans? One last chance for our Ski Testers to ride next season’s skis before orders are placed and our retail ski wall is shaped. This year, I tagged along to learn more about how our seasoned team of testers decide which specific ski brands and models that Jans will sell. Their goal – provide our customers with a streamlined, yet option-filled, ski testing and buying experience.
The Jans Ski Test Team:
Six seasoned skiers make up the 2014 Jans Test Team: George “Squid” Sideris, Jack Walzer, Ramsey Moore, Stephanie Humes, Karl “Jake” Jacobson, and Paul Archer. While their accomplishments within the industry are far too extensive to list here, click on each tester’s name to see why these team members are considered Jans’ ultimate ski experts.
This team of veteran testers has a combined 191 years of experience in the ski industry, and 159 years with Jans alone. They are selected to their post based not only on their industry experience, but also their elite skiing ability, daily interaction with our customers, and near encyclopedic understanding of ski chronology. While their collective knowledge is undoubtedly impressive, it is the professionalism with which they approach the ski testing process that is truly remarkable.
The Ski Testing Process:
From start to finish, the test days at Snowbasin are packed with ski testing, analysis and discussion. With a strict test list, and a slightly looser timetable, the test team works their way through the new skis presented by not only the seven staple brands Jans carries – Atomic, Fischer, Head, K2, Kastle, Stokli, and Volkl – but a collection of up-and-coming brands that have gained our attention as well.
The days end with a round table discussion of the finer points of each brand and individual skis tested – what worked, what didn’t, and what industry trends should be factored into the equation. It’s filtering by coalition, and offers unique insight into the complexity of Jans’ yearly ski buy.
Here at Jans we have an exceptionally varied clientele. Spread across our Jans locations that sell skis in Park City, we interact with the full spectrum of the market. From beginners to experts, all mountain skiers to racers, price-conscious shoppers to high-end buyers, our customers present a unique challenge when put in the context of a retail ski wall.
And so with this company, and this crew of ski testers, it’s about choosing a lineup of skis that will meet the needs of all of our customers. When it comes down to it, a diverse ski inventory is about respect for anyone who is considering purchasing their own pair of skis.
Why We Test Skis Every Year:
In the ski industry it’s all too easy for a retailer to fall into a rut. Carrying skis based on how well they sold the previous season is the least risky way to choose which skis to carry. This margin-focused mindset, however, is a stagnant and downright lazy way to shape a store’s inventory. If manufacturers are expected to improve their product with each passing season, then retailers should be expected to honor each ski company’s ability to meet that goal.
But industry theory aside, the true merit of yearly ski testing lies in its benefit to you, the customer. Starting the test process each season with a clean slate is the only way to ensure that we stay on top of current trends. We personally want to know exactly how each ski has changed, and feel that you deserve the same insider information. With a market flooded by hundreds of skis, it helps to have a team dedicated to filtering out the gems.
Why This Matters:
By the time our customers test one of the skis in the Jans Test Program, it has been put through countless hours of scrutiny within the company. From the initial order strategy, to the Test Team’s assessment, to the three days at the start of each season when the sales staff tests every ski we sell, the ski in your hand will have been put through multiple layers of internal review.
Jans maintains a firm belief that no customer should purchase a ski before it is personally tested. In fact, our Ski Test Program is so important to us that we have made it the subject of multiple television commercials.
So, if you test a ski with Jans and eventually purchase it, rest easy knowing that the entire sales staff has skied it, learned its characteristics, and has committed to finding its proper owner.
Nate Tomlinson, Content Writer