DC-Area High-Performance Ski Rentals
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snowcone
August 15, 2003
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
I do not know of any Beltway stores that rent performance demos other than Princeton Sports and Travel in Columbia (http://www.princetonsports.com/) and their selection can be limited. About the best place to get high-end demos, outside of specific demo days, is Snowshoe. That's how I was able to try near a dozen different skis before settling on buying my Volkls. They have just about everything. Only difficulty might be if you are looking for a non-standard length, i.e., shorter or much longer than average. If you get their Demo Platter for $60 a day (less for several days) you can swap out as much as you want based on availability. If you go in with a list the night before and book the Platter (smile nicely please), the guys will hold up to 2 additional pair of skis in addition to the ones you take first. All in all it's about the best deal I know of for trying new skis.
JohnL
August 16, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Does anyone have any first-hand recommendations or tips for locally renting/demoing high-performance skis? I'm talking about skis like the Vokl Supersport 6/5 Star, Elan Fusion S 12, Head Monster i.M 75 Chip, K2 Axis X, etc.

The best bet would seem to be the Ski Chalet demo days. Any comments on availability of skis @ the demo days? Any other recommended demo days out there?

Two other possible options would be local ski areas and ski shops. However, I know in the past that upper-end rentals are either non-existent or extremely limited in selection. Has this changed? The web sites of Whitetail, Liberty, Ski Center, Ski Chalet don't provide too much info. (Ski Center's had the most info, but it appears dated.)

Roy
August 16, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
I spent all last year demoing skis, looking for the right pair to buy. In this area, Snowshoe was the only place with good demo equipment. I got 7 days at the shoe (including the big President's day dump) and the guys let me trade out everyday. They also suggested different skis and which ones would work better.

Other than that, all my demos came from the west.

Otto
August 16, 2003
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
Ski Center used to rent examples of most of what they had for sale. They weren't free demos by any stretch, but you could ususally get what you wanted when you wanted it.
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 18, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I've been told that there will be a demo weekend at Snowshoe on 13-14 December.

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 08-18-2003).]

snowcone
August 18, 2003
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
Yup, there sure is a Demo weekend at Snowshoe December 12-14. Special deals on lodging too.
The link is here: http://www.snowshoemtn.com/december.html ...
I have not personally participated in their demos. We happened to be at Snowshoe during last year's demos and found that some of the top skis were in short or non-existant supply. It was so bad in the case of last year's super hot ski, Volkl T50 SuperSports, that one of the booth guys had to lend his personal skis for tryouts.
You will find most of the major manufacturers there but some of the less well know like Stockli seemed to be missing in action.
JohnL
August 18, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Thanks everyone for the input. Ski Center and Princeton Sports seem like the best local ski shops for demos, Snowshoe the best local area. Though 60 bucks @ the Shoe (plus some other fees I'm sure) is Corbett's steep for one day. I've been spoiled out West; $35 bucks a day (all fees included) for top of the line skis, plus you can exchange them during the day for other pairs (if available but they usually are). $35 bucks applies to places like Taos, W/B and Squaw; Vail would prolly charge $35 just to walk through the door. And you'd have to listen to a spiel about a seven-figure timeshare Like I could afford that.

I suspect the local demos daze will be real hit and miss. If the pair of skis you have your eye on are really hot, you may not get the chance to ski them. Plus, I imagine there is some time limit as to how long you can have the skis out (prolly doesn't stop some from abusing the limit.) But it could be a chance to take a flier on a pair that you'd never even consider.

Anyone know if the Ski Chalet demos are only attended by manufacturer's that Ski Chalet sells? Looks like Ski Chalet (and Ski Center for that matter) don't stock Head skis.

Compared to other areas of the US (Rockies, New England), DC seems to be a bit lacking in terms of high-quality demos. While DC doesn't necessarily have local areas that are world-class, they ain't bad for a few hour drive; plus, from what I've read in the past, skiers in the DC area buy a lot of skis and spend a lot of money. For those local ski shops/ski areas that read these boards (hint-hint), applying your rental fees to a new pair of skis goes a long way towards convincing me where to buy my next set.

Roy
August 19, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
My guess is there will only be manufacturer's that they sell.

I noticed they don't sell Head skis either. I was trying to price some and couldn't find them. Anyone seen Head skis around town?

JohnL
August 19, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
The store locator results on Head's website (www.head.com - lots of Flash on the site) have changed since last week. The site now lists Ski Chalet and Ski Center (but still list the defunct(?) Bart's Inner Ski?) Maybe with the recent upswing of Head Skis, they have decided to pick up the line. Their websites basically list last year's gear. So buyer beware.

Village Bike & Ski
12383 DILLINGHAM SQ.
Woodbridge, VA, 22192
(703) 730-0303

BART'S INNER SKI
811 RUSSELL AVE.
GAITHERSBURG, MD, 20879
(301) 926-1379

PRINCETON SPORTS INC.
10730 LITTLE PATURENT PKWY
COLUMBIA, MD, 21044
(410) 995-1894
www.princetonsports.com

BART'S INNER SKI
490 L-PROSPECT BLVD.
FREDERICK, MD, 21701
(301) 620-4100

PRINCETON SPORTS INC.
6239 FALLS RD.
BALTIMORE, MD, 21209
(410) 828-1127
www.princetonsports.com

SKI CHALET
2704 COLUMBIA PIKE
ARLINGTON, VA, 22204
(703) 521-1700
www.skichalet.com

SKI CENTER
4300 FORDHAM RD.
WASHINGTON, DC, 20016
(202) 966-4474
www.skicenter.com Map

SKI CHALET
8338 LEESBURG PIKE
VIENNA, VA, 22182
(703) 761-3040
Map

ALPINE SKI SHOP INC
2964 CHAIN BRIDGE RD.
OAKTON, VA, 22124
(703) 281-1513
www.alpineskishop.com Map

SKI CHALET
4060 WALNEY RD.
CHANTILLY, VA, 20151
(703) 631-7880



johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 19, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
JohnL said:

"Their websites basically list last year's gear."

What a bummer. I logged in after reading the Buyer's Guide hoping to get some more info on Head gear, and found nothing but last year's stuff. What a missed opportunity for Head.

JohnL
August 19, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Lot's of ski-related businesses (manufacturer's, ski areas, ski mags, ski shops) are really screwing up their web sites and hence, hurting business with the serious customer. Elan doesn't have their 2004 skis listed on their own site - hard to believe since the first buyer's guide has hit the streets already. (I realize Elan as a company has just come back from the dead but I walk into a department store in August and they're selling winter coats.) Stale product distributors on Head's site. Ski Chalet's sight pretty much just links you to their upcoming sale - and that info is contained on their mailer. Ski Center's has last year's info. Even if you haven't finalized all your buying, at least toss us a bone. Especially once the buying guides have hit the streets and we're starting to think about spending some coin...

It took forever to try to find the winter section (for rental info) on Liberty's and Whitetail's sites. For a minute I thought they had ceased all ski operations and were only going to be fly-fishing, mountain biking and golfing areas.

Even Ski Magazine's website only has last year's product guide. (I know, making sure that you buy the paper product, but if you make the web site worthwhile, I'll pay extra for an upgraded web site.) Plus, the product guide is pretty much a lame search engine put in front of their magazine reviews. No additional info or value added. Ugh!

Thank God for Peter K. and Epic ski. (Complementary sites to this one.)

Otto
August 20, 2003
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
Ski manufacturers and ski retailers seem to be pretty averse to the web as a marketing tool. My experience is that most of the mfr's don't update ski information until as late as October.

I am sure that most ski shops view the web as a threat to their way of doing business.

JohnL
August 20, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Buying a pair of skis has become almost as complex as buying a car. The choices can be overwhelming: numerous ski types and shapes (race, ultra-shorties, hypercarves, skiercross, twin-tip, mogul, narrow waist, mid-fat, big mountain (Alaska), powder fat boys); the possible length ranges for performance skiing is greater (from 160's to upper 180's); integrated binding system versus conventional binding system; plus new technology (chips, piezoelectric damping, damping arms, etc.).

With a good performance ski/binding package running at least $800, I want to be able to use the skis for a long time to get my money's worth. A wrong decision could be an expensive mistake.

Since ski manufacturer's are trying to differentiate themselves based upon new technologies, they are really doing us consumers a disservice by not having sufficient product information on their web sites once the first buying guides hit the homes/stores. Some of this technology may turn out to do nothing but add several hundred dollars to a pair of skis; some of the technology may revolutionize skiing. There are so many possible choices out there that it will probably take me several months of researching to narrow my choices to the few that I want to demo. I've also found that knowing a fair amount about what the possible choices are really helps when you go into a ski ship asking for advice. It will also probably take less of the salesperson's time.

The only things ski shops have to view as a threat is their own lack of service. With all this complexity out there, a good web site can go along way to improving the buying process.

I love to ski, but I hate to shop.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 21, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
JohnL:

I agree wholeheartedly that the ski manufacturers should do a better job with their web sites. The American ski public is a fairly sophisticated group. Many us the web, especially message boards like the ones on EpicSki, to determine what they need. Sadly for ski shops, savier buyers also buy equipment online at cheaper prices. That may be why the manufacturers are adverse to the web.

Another reason may have to do with where these companies are headquartered. Most are in Europe. While Europeans use the web extensively, they do not purchase merchandise on the web as much as we do. Why? Returning merchandise has always been more difficult in Europe than in the US, and this fact makes Euros more reluctant than us to purchase merchandise over the web. Second, they are not as comfortable about using credit cards as we are--especially over the net. Credit cards are also not as prevalent in Europe as they are in the US.

Otto
August 21, 2003
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
One thing I think is almost criminal - the complete lack of guidance on web sites about which length to buy. Granted, the appropriate length is not determined solely by skier height and weight, but those two factors can get you to within a ballpark of two lengths.

There are two primary reasons why the "shaped ski" revolution has not been that revolutionary. Most skiers don't have the movement patterns to use the skis like they should be and people have been getting the skis too long.

Roy
August 22, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Otto I agree. I came back to skiing about 5 years ago. Since my absence, the shaped ski came along.

I started on 170's and started to work my way up to 195's. Only last year did I finally realize that 170's was the perfect length for me. I had to overcome the old adage that the longer the ski the faster you'll go (like in straight skis).

JohnL
August 22, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Johnfmh,

I think you are missing the point of my criticism of the ski manufacturer/ retailer web sites. I didn't mention anything about actually buying skis or ski gear over the web nor do I advocate doing so. The amount of service needed to buy ski equipment (especially boots) is too great to buy-pass (pun intended) the middlemen (ski shops). I include ski demos as part of this service. If I demo 3 sets of skis for $100 total, I like one of them, the ski shop applies the demo money to the cost of the skis, and I'm not totally BOHICA'd on the price of the skis, I buy the skis from that ski shop.

However, to effectively use ski shops and demo days, skiers need more product information and independent product reviews. The web is a very effective tool for conveying that information.

Also, I wouldn't buy a set of skis just based on the concensus of a web discussion group or an independent review. I take someone's input with a grain of salt until I've actually skied with them and see how they ski and what they ski compared to me. While there may truly be no bad skis out there, there are certainly bad skis for me and for how I want to use them.

Otto,

I agree 100 percent with what you said about ski lengths. At last year's National Ski Expo, the most important thing I got from the various manufacturer's reps was their recommendations on ski lengths. Good to get it straight from the horse's mouth.

[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 08-22-2003).]

Dang message board grammar and spelling.

[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 08-22-2003).]

JohnL
August 23, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Roy,

Remember that the true judge of a macho skier is not his ski length but his DIN setting.

Roy
August 24, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
You're right John. Macho or stupidity? Sometimes they can be the same. (Should I jump down this couloir or not? Hmmmm...)
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 24, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
JohnL

I did misunderstand you. You're right about the Internet. When you factor in demo and mounting costs, the savings quickly evaporate.

One store not mentioned yet in this discussion is Willi's of Pittsburgh. Willi's has a very nice store in the new lodge at 7 Springs--very convenient for trying out skis. I bought my last set of skis there.

http://www.skiandboard.net/

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