DRY RUN A Demo Day, a chance to try out gear, is held Nov. 28 at Sunday River.

The skis are tuned, waxed and waiting.

In a traveling show that many skiers and snowboarders will see throughout the season, particularly early season in times for the holidays, ski reps haul their gear to your favorite ski area, set up the display tent, haul out the equipment and then let consumers go for a test drive.

It likes like a mini-mall, an outdoor demonstration center with the ski area as the testing grounds.

Try it, then go somewhere and maybe buy it.

"It's easy to be overwhelmed," said David Nihan, New England promotions representative for manufacturers Volkl and Marker. "A good idea is to do some research before coming. Read the ski magazines. Go online. Narrow down what you want to try."

Demo Days give ski gear manufacturers a chance to show off their latest wares while providing skiers and riders the opportunities to try them. Skis, snowboards, goggles, helmets and often more (each demo day is different) can be checked out on the slopes after the consumer first registers with a driver's license and credit card. You'll need a lift ticket or season pass for the day. Sometimes there's a small fee to take part. Bring your own boots and poles.

Last weekend Sunday River hosted Demo Days. On Saturday skiers used the 18 open trails like Monday Mourning, Sunday Punch, Jungle Road and Easy Street to get a feel for those new boards under their feet in a mixing bowl of spring-like conditions on a morning with temperatures in the 40s.

There were a good dozen or so brands available like Fischer, Blizzard, Tecnica, Volkl, Marker, Ramp, Dynastar and K2.

In between adjusting bindings and doing some tuning tweaks, a few reps took the time to give advice to make the best of your time on the slopes.

"Don't lie about your age, height, weight or ability," said Seth Davis, a sales rep for Blizzard and Tecnica. "Be as honest as possible. The bindings are calibrated to release at a proper point. If you say you are better than you are, there may be a problem."

Don't be afraid to try different brands, but be sure to stick within the same type of ski in terms of length, waist width and purpose like an all-mountain ski.

"I see a lot of people taking notes," said Davis. "They try a few brands and then circle back to what they like."

Davis says he sees people of all abilities.

"Some people need new skis after 10 years," he said. "Others are looking for another ski to add to their quiver."

Jeff Moody, an independent sales rep for Fischer, advises skiers to take the skis out for three runs on moderate terrain. Take them out and make different types of turns and at different rates of speed.

"If you are out on a narrow ski, make lots of short turns, short radial turns," he said. "If you are on a wider ski, you want to utilize that sidecut and get them up on the edge. When you are on the lift and see people making those beautiful carving turns, they're utilizing the sidecut with proper technique and physical strength. They make it look easy."

Moody says many skiers are now concerned about the weight of their skis.

"I hear it all the time," he said. 'My old skis are heavy. What do you have that's light?'"

Nihan made the analogy that test driving a ski is like taking a car for a test drive.

"You should be able to get the skis up on edge," he said. "The ski should feel nice and stable. Find what works for you and then try maybe two of them. You don't want to over-think this."

And another thing you don't want to do, is take that ski out all day. No one appreciates it. Not the reps and not the skier wanting to try the ski you've been out on.

"Don't take them out to lunch," said Nihan.


Coming up

Test the latest toys for your feet and more during Downhill Supply Co. Demo Day on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Sugarloaf. Cough up five bucks for the test drive. Register in the base lodge Maple Room before hanging with the vendors at the base of the SuperQuad.

You'll definitely see Santa on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Sunday River. If you want to get a rush, just hang out under a lift and watch the waves of red flying over you. Those jolly creatures raised money for local charities.

WinterKids Passport holders (all fifth, sixth and seventh graders in Maine are eligible) get gear discounts Dec. 5 at Long's Board Shop, 209 Western Ave., South Portland).

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