Like a lot of weekend skiers, my quiver of skis is only one pair deep. The idea of a single “all mountain” ski is a tough one to nail down — especially here on the weather-variable East Coast — but it’s a more affordable option than different skis for every condition.

My Atomic Metrons work swimmingly as a jack-of-all-trades pair, even if they’re a master of none.

I’m satisfied with my skis, but nagging curiosity about whether they’re the best pair for me occasionally takes over. Thankfully most Maine ski shops offer some sort of demo program, so it’s easy (and cheap!) to try out multiple skis. With a bit of testing, you can find that Goldilocks pair that fits you just right.

Demo programs vary from shop to shop, but the prices are fairly even around Maine. At the Saddleback ski shop, for example, $50 lets you test up to four pairs of skis on a single day. At Sunday River Sports and the Sugarloaf Ski Shop, the same $50 buys you the chance to demo unlimited pairs. In all three cases, the $50 goes toward the purchase cost of the skis if you end up buying a pair you tested.

Snowboarders, never fear — mountain snowboard shops offer similar rates.

Mother Nature saw fit to finally grant East Coasters a bit of winter, making early March the perfect time to test a few pairs of skis. Temperatures in the 40s, fresh snow and lots of sun provided ideal conditions to see if those Atomics were the best thing for everything from powder to sheer ic er “packed powder.”

I asked Jeff at Sunday River Sports to put me on skis that were as wildly different as possible. He obliged, offering up a playful off-piste pair, some rail-stiff hard-pack carvers and a set of Swiss twin-tips.

The Blizzard Bushwhacker (manufacturer’s suggested price, $750), the first rockered ski I’ve ever tried, was about as far from the Atomic Metron as I could get. Super light with lots of pop, the Blizzards bounced through moguls on Downdraft and around trees in Blind Ambition. Despite being one of the skinnier skis in the company’s line (only 88mm underfoot), it floats on top of powder with ease. The Blizzards weren’t quite as stable on hard pack or at speed as the grippy Metrons, but they bit into scratchier slopes just fine.

A complete 180 from the soft and flexible Bushwhackers, the Fischer Motive 80 Powerrail ($950) felt as stiff as steel beams. The Fischers weren’t as playful, but boy did they rip. On Monday Mourning, they gave me hip-on-the-hill GS turns at something approaching mach speed, with unreal stability. The Powerrail tech — wider, lower bindings — made going edge-to-edge as easy as it’s ever been. There wasn’t a moment that it didn’t feel like the Fischers were on edge and slicing deep into the snow.

The last ski of the day, Stockli’s Rotor 72 ($1,279), is billed by the company as a “twin-tipped ski with giant slalom traits.” It skied unlike anything I’ve ever ridden, and came close to a perfect ski for everything I threw at it. Bouncing around in the park, in moguls, through trees, taking short and long turns, the Rotors were game for it all. Their price reflects their Swiss Army Knife nature, but there’s no doubt the 75-year-old company knows how to make a fast, snappy ski.

Riding on four types of skis in a couple of hours gives you a real appreciation for how much equipment can shape the experience. I’ve always stuck to the idea that the skill lies in a skier, with the gear pretty much an afterthought, but it was obvious after a day at Sunday River that four different skis made me four different skiers. That, and it was loads of fun to be able to try out radically different equipment before committing to a new pair.

Thanks to demo programs at Maine ski shops, you don’t need to be a member of a ski magazine’s review team to try out the season’s best skis. While conditions are good, find out what kind of skier you really are, and what skis fit you best.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at: [email protected]

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