The Skialper Buyer’s Guide is called the “Bible” for a reason. It’s really well known in the winter sports industry for its super meticulous reviews of the latest ski gear on the market. Skis, splitboards, boots, bindings, skins, poles, crampons and more. Everything is tested down to the last detail: in the lab, on the snow, in all conditions. All this to give snow lovers the most precise, methodical and rigorous reviews possible.
For the past two decades, the Guide has only ever been published in a print version. And only in Italian. But for the first time in history, Skialper wanted to publish the 2024 Guide digitally– in both Italian and English. We’re talking 640 pages of extremely technical text, written with intricate industry jargon and slang.
While switching to a whole new digital platform, Skialper also had to find a system that would reduce manual work… at scale and on a tight timeline.
This is where we came in.
The Action Sports Translator + Skialper
When Skialper’s editorial team reached out to us, we were absolutely stoked; as Skialper’s target consumers, we couldn’t have been more excited about helping them take the Guide across national borders.
We knew we had an intense few months of hard work ahead of us. Our team of winter sports translation specialists is no stranger to complex terminology and sports-specific cultural references, but the Skialper Buyer’s Guide would kick things up a notch. The good news? We love a good challenge.
From leveraging the best tech on the market to building and coordinating a custom team of ski-savvy translators to jumping in to make last-minute changes and tweaks and monitor user feedback, keep reading to find out how we tackled this mammoth task.
“When we decided to translate the digital version of our Buyer’s Guide into English – a 640-page guide of product tests for ski mountaineering and freeride gear – we wondered how to do it for a long time. We work with various translators, but the ski and boot tests use highly technical language and terminology. It’s not easy to find someone who could translate perfectly from Italian to English, in the right style. With TAST, we had a great feeling from the start and the work was really thorough, with ongoing communication to define the right terms to use, as well as giving us the chance to get involved during the translation process and assess the quality of the work.”
For this project, Skialper needed a translation partner who could provide top-notch translations–and who truly understood their market, the sports, the products and the people they write for. But that’s not all. They also needed a team player who could work closely with them and who knows how to handle complex projects with a tight schedule.
Well, hello. That’s us.
With our team of 400+ outdoor-sports translation specialists, supported by the best tech on the market and tons of experience in the industry, we knew exactly what needed to get done and how.
Challenge #1: Going digital
Not only was it the first time Skialper would ever release a digital, bilingual version of their Buyer’s Guide: it was also a special edition. With 442 product reviews and 57 articles (as well as all the additional website texts, strings, headings and buttons) the 2024 version is more in depth than ever. Exchanging folders and files via email and importing and exporting documents (or, worse, copy and pasting!) was a no-go. We needed a better, streamlined system that would allow us to plug the content from Skialper’s digital platform into our translation software. Otherwise, we’d never make it on time (and we’d probably lose our minds on top of it).
Challenge #2: The tight deadline
Every year, the Skialper Buyer’s Guide editorial team works non-stop for months to bring the most accurate and honest reviews to their audience. No shortcuts or compromises. By the time the content was ready for translation, it was a race against the clock to get it all done by the official launch date. When you’re working on a project of this scale, a couple of months is usually not enough. So we had to think outside the box and build a world-class team who could handle this monumental task.
Challenge #3: Keeping things on track
Once we had the right people in place, we needed to make sure everything would run smoothly and like clockwork with the tech and within our team. Working through such a huge quantity of highly technical texts, managing multiple translators while keeping a consistent style and dealing with additional content that was being updated all the time was no easy feat. Plus, the project launched in June and had to be executed over the summer months, when most people in Europe go on holiday–further eating into our deadline.
Challenge #4: No room for error
The Skialper Buyer’s Guide is written for an expert audience. Advanced winter sports enthusiasts who geek out about their gear and know their terminology inside and out. To give you an idea, these are the kinds of texts they were dealing with. Not just heavy with terminology, but full of slang and jargon. Highly technical texts written in a super informal tone of voice:
Original: Ingresso e uscita comodi, a patto che il piede sia estremamente narrow, stretto, per altre forme e volumetrie ci vuole un po’ di spirito di adattamento. La posizione inclinata in avanti e la chiusura dei quattro ganci lo trasformano in un ‘monoblocco in cemento’ che si inchioda alla neve e non la lascia più. Volumi ridotti per evitare giochi e vuoti, sinonimo di precisione assoluta. La leva posteriore è la classica di Scarpa, facilmente manovrabile anche con guanti spessi.
Translation: Comfortable entry and exit, as long as you have extremely narrow feet. This is a tight-fitting boot, so anyone with bigger feet will need to adapt. The forward lean and four-buckle closure transform it into a kind of armored tank that grips the snow and won’t let go. Reduced volume to prevent slop and voids = maximum precision. The classic Scarpa ski/walk lever is easy to use, even while wearing thick gloves.
The English version had been highly anticipated for years, so we knew the Guide would have huge visibility and that we had no margin for getting even the smallest detail wrong. That’s why we had to carefully select and vet specialized translators who met a series of non-negotiable requirements. The problem? There are only a handful of people in the world who do.
Launching the Skialper Buyer’s Guide in English, on time and on budget: how we did it
Despite these challenges, we pulled off the project–on time and on budget. Here’s how.
1. Leveraging technology
After analyzing Skialper’s CMS and liaising with their digital studio team, we identified Crowdin – a professional localization solution – as our best option. Crowdin’s out-of-the-box integration meant we could launch it with one click, allowing us to pull content from the Buyer’s Guide into our translation backend and then push it back once the translation had been completed, eliminating manual work–both for us and for the Skialper editorial team.
Like all modern translation management systems, Crowdin features translation memories and glossaries, which can be accessed by multiple translators simultaneously and are essential when you’re dealing with complex terminology where consistency is key.
For some of the content that was outside the CMS, we used our internal translation technology, integrating the translation memory from the rest of the project.
2. Building a world-class team
We needed a team of Italian to English native, professional translators, who are highly skilled and experienced in technical and marketing translations with a bunch of academic qualifications under their belt. Plus, they had to be winter sports enthusiasts who knew their cuff rotation from their flex, their groomers from their gussets and, what’s more, could translate jargon that would go right over the head of most non-skiers. Where would we find them?
We first tapped into our community of 400+ sports translation specialists and identified a few profiles that were perfect matches. And, because we couldn’t leave anything to chance, we did some additional recruiting specifically for this project. After several rounds of vetting, we had a team of 3 translators and one editor/quality assurance specialist that we knew would deliver top-notch results.
3. Keeping a consistent voice
Working with multiple people means you can always end up with different translation and writing styles. We already knew that, and so we selected profiles with a very similar style in the vetting phase.
But, no matter how much you prepare, if you get people to work in silos, you’re likely to get inconsistent results. That’s why we ditched the way translation agencies typically work and did things a bit differently.
Rather than just relying on translation memories and glossaries, we fostered a collaborative environment: a shared channel where translators could communicate, bounce ideas off each other, discuss issues and ask questions (which our project manager would then relay back to the client). Not only did this allow them to keep terminology and style choices consistent, but it also created an opportunity to solve queries and issues before they even got to the client. For our team, it meant we could put our heads together to find creative solutions. For our client, it meant a better-quality translation as well as streamlined communication. (We weren’t bombarding them with questions and queries that we could resolve ourselves.) A win for everyone.
4. Feedback loop and quality assurance
Throughout the process, we kept Skialper updated with progress. And thanks to the software integration, they had direct access to the translations.
Towards the end of the project, we ran spot checks on the translations with an additional editor. (These were largely positive.) We then made a few adjustments based on the results.
Once the platform was about to launch and we saw our translations in context, we ran further checks on the published website content. A few more adjustments were needed, which we implemented quickly by working directly in the client’s CMS.
“…the work was really thorough, with ongoing communication to define the right terms to use, as well as giving us the chance to get involved during the translation process and assess the quality of the work.”
5. In-context adjustments
For most translation agencies, the project is over when the translations are submitted to the client. But we like to do things differently.
Since the Skialper Buyer’s Guide officially launched, we’ve been continuing to work with Skialper, checking out user feedback to make any further changes or tweaks. We’ve also been jumping in to quickly turn around additional last-second content, from website strings to blog articles and more.
The English Skialper Buyer’s Guide 2024 made a successful digital debut. In the months running up to its launch, we managed to create a bespoke team for the project, translate all the texts and ensure consistent terminology and style thanks to smart use of translation software and a collaborative approach. The translations were seamlessly integrated into the client’s CMS- not only could they keep track of progress, but it saved everyone a LOT of time that would otherwise have been spent manually inserting or updating texts.
The English version of the website underwent a quality-control check, and towards the end of the project, we could focus our time and energy on ironing out any final wrinkles on the website while monitoring user feedback.
Most importantly, users worldwide are able to access and enjoy the Buyer’s Guide content at last.
Haven’t got yourself a copy yet? Grab one now: Skialper Buyer’s Guide in English
P.S. We’re still working with the Skialper team to fix some final bits and bobs as new texts are added and updated. If you spot anything that needs sorting, give us a heads up at email@example.com
Could your team give us our next translation challenge? We’re ready to gear up and dive in. If you’re looking for a translation agency that’s just as enthusiastic about your industry as they are about translation, reach out about your project, and we’ll get back to you within a couple of hours.