GoPro Goes Behind the Scenes with FREESKIER
What has 250 pairs of skis, pages of “deep a** pow” and a 1-to-10 scale of awesomeness? FREESKIER’S 2018 Buyer’s Guide, which will hit mailboxes in late summer and stoke skiers everywhere with the must-have gear for the upcoming season.
GoPro teamed up with the magazine to support its annual Ski Test, which could be interpreted as an elaborate ruse for ski-fiends to take endless laps in perfect conditions, but which FREESKIER insists is “just another day at work.”
We caught up with the team after their multi-day Ski Test to learn more about what it takes to put together a Gear Guide and how GoPro helped them get the shot.
GoPro: Let’s start with the basics – who, what, when, where, why?
FREESKIER: Our recent ski testing involved top-notch terrain at Snowbird and Aspen, dozens of ski testers, a boat-load of brands, product managers and tech reps, and also hundreds of pairs of next year’s skis, from all-mountain, to big-mountain, to powder to park. Our end-goal was to test each and every pair of skis, allowing us to present the cream of the crop in our 2018 Buyer’s Guide—all ranked and reviewed.
How many products did you test? And who were the lucky ones that got to tag along?
We tested over 250 pairs of next year’s skis, i.e. skis that will be available to consumers in the fall of 2017 and winter of 2018. We utilized more than 30 ski testers; we carefully selected a talented and diverse group of skiers who get the honor of partaking in our test. They’re of all shapes and sizes, skier types and genders—the ideal squad for trying out all different kinds of skis.
The group consists mostly of rippin’ Coloradoans and Utahns who have made lives for themselves in the mountains. Some work in ski shops. Some are professional athletes. Others represent ski brands and resorts. The rest are just passionate skiers. Rest assured, they’re highly qualified for the job, some having tested with FREESKIER for the past decade.
What are some of the criteria and measurements for testing?
On a scale of 1 to 10, each ski was judged for its carving, stability, versatility, float, playfulness and overall awesomeness. The ratings are submitted via our custom testing app straight into a gargantuan database, in real time. This allows us to keep track of not only what skis are being used, but also what skis aren’t. In other words, if a pair has been sitting on the ski racks all day untested, we’ll get them to a tester straight away. This process ensures that every ski is tested thoroughly and fairly.
Essentially, the goal is to have the “best run ever,” over and over, and see how the skis stand up to the abuse. The other key factor is getting some beta from the manufacturing reps on site. It’s important to find out what’s new about a product, what sorts of ingredients comprise the ski, and so on.
How did your team incorporate GoPro into the shoot?
It was awesome to have GoPro cameras on-hand to document the experience. Whether we were utilizing helmet or pole mounts, or following closely behind our testers using the Karma Grip, GoPro allowed us to capture the action in a way that is captivating to viewers—crisp, clean, high definition and wide-angle, allowing us to showcase as much of the beautiful scenery and the testing process as possible.
What GoPro cameras, mounts and accessories did you use the most?
We utilized the HERO5 Black camera—it’s our favorite, no doubt about it. The range of shooting options is vast and the quality of the video is top-notch. Regarding mounts and accessories, we utilized the 3-Way, for starters. The 3-Way is awesome as far as a “selfie stick” goes; it’s easy to extend, bend and contract. The fact that you can turn it into a tri-pod is an added bonus. We used pole-mounts and also the curved adhesive mounts on top of testers’ helmets, as well. The Karma Grip was our go-to accessory, however. The ability to follow skiers at high speeds and across variable terrain while maintaining a perfectly smooth video… it’s just insane. Given its life-like, somewhat robotic qualities, it was a huge hit among our testers and also passersby. Everyone wanted to find out what this thing was all about. When we played back the footage, it was clear to everyone: this tool is a must-have. Lastly, we utilized the GoPro app to download footage immediately onto our phones. We used the clipping and editing features, as well, allowing us to capture footage one minute and post it to Facebook and Instagram the next. The convenience factor is huge. And in an industry like ours, timing is everything when it comes to maximizing visibility and viewcounts.
Any funny anecdotes or stories from the shoot?
“This year, on our first morning, we were ‘interlodged,’ meaning we couldn’t leave the our house due to intense avalanche mitigation. A storm had dropped 14-plus inches on Snowbird and we awoke to the echoes of avalanche bombs all around us. When the interlodge was finally lifted, we skied deep pow all day to kick off the week.” — Donny O’Neill, FREESKIER Senior Editor
“My favorite memory would have to be skiing deep ass pow laps with my childhood hero, Pep Fujas. Don’t want to get too heavy and look over the constant laughs we had all week, but that will be seared in my brain forever.” — Adrian Bouthot, Tester
“The group of testers and staff at FREEESKIER are bringing the fun and positive energy that is needed in the ski industry. At the end of each day, everyone gets together and hangs out around the Yurt—sharing stories about the day, as well as a healthy amount of beverages. The stoke level is always at an all-time high and the energy can not be beat. Stories about the best tomahawk, side hit, party lap or the prior night’s festivities are shared with everyone. Those moments, where the group came together, are collectively the best memory of the week.” — Colin Sutherland of Liberty Skis
When can readers check out the Buyer’s Guide issue?
The 2018 Buyer’s Guide will hit subscribers’ mailboxes in late August or early September. We encourage folks to subscribe right away to ensure they get on our mailing list in time. freeskier.com/subscribe