If you could have any ski in world, made from scratch just for you — what would it be?
I’ve spent countless conversations with friends complaining about companies not making the exact ski I want. The selfish me, Me, ME! Even though I have skis I really like, I can always find some way to criticize them. Well, let me tell you, complaining is easy. Designing a ski from scratch, not so much.
This fall, I was blessed with an awesome opportunity to work with Kelvin at Maiden Skis, Jackson Hole. Kelvin is a magician who creates
custom skis. I’ll do my best to summarize a book worth of thoughts and stories from my experience of designing a pair of skis with Kelvin’s help.
To begin the process Kelvin provided me with a form that covered the basics. The form was used as a kickoff point for determining the exact length, shape and material of the skis. It outlined my height and weight, along with a few preference points of ski specs.
I also shared my initial thoughts on the ultimate length and shape for a backcountry ski. This part was easy for me, I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past few years thinking of my perfect ski shape for an all around touring ski. I wanted something that can float well in pow, but also be a light crusher in the spring. I wanted that quiver-of-one ski.
Usually I tour on a 110 underfoot ski that is not touring specific with weight of ~1900g per ski without bindings. I love the fact that the width lets me stay on top of chunder and feel confident on anything hardpack — as well as have a real good time in fresh snow. We get all kinds of snow conditions in the PNW so it’s important for me to have a ski that can handle anything starting from fresh snow, to manky pow, to solid ice.
With that said, 110 mm underfoot at 172 cm length is a lot of mass. We do miles of ski carrying in the spring — my back complains a lot.
With that in mind, I landed on 132-105-120 initial specs with 172 cm length. In my opinion 105 underfoot is an ideal width for a do-it-all ski (still running on the wider side because I like having more ski under me). For a profile, I went with early rise — camber — early rise, with more rise at the tip and less at the tail. Get ready to float! The tail profile would be flat. Sadly, I don’t plan to go backwards.
The next part was an exciting learning process for me! Kelvin took my design and suggested a few minor changes to the dimensions to give the ski a little more sidecut while keeping the waist at 105 mm since that was important to me. He explained that this would make the ski a little quicker since I like a shorter turn radius. He also highlighted that he has found that having the widest part up on the rocker, rather than the contact point makes for a smoother turning ski. This allows the tips to engage progressively as the ski goes on edge. Sounds great to me!
The decision for material was heavily influenced by the fact that this will be a backcountry ski — it would have a maple core with structural foam at the tips and tails, along with carbon fiber to lighten the overall ski. Even though 105 is not much smaller than my original 110 when it comes to size, the construction profile plays a big part in making the ski lighter. My back and my legs are excited just thinking about this.
Once the design was complete, the next step became my nightmare. I didn’t even know where to start. Want to take a guess what I am talking about? Ever wanted to make your own ski graphic but have no artistic talent at all? Yup, that’s me. I do a good job critiquing other people’s art when I can’t even create my own. Working on designing my own graphic has given me a completely different perspective on what that entails and I want to give a big shout-out to all ski graphic designers out there! Keep up the good work!
I’m a lucky one to have a partner who, unlike me, is very artistic. After a month of pulling hair out of my head and getting nowhere as far as even deciding on what color the ski should be, Louie sat me down and convinced me to get a Pinterest account. After a few hours of wandering the deep black hole of the internet, I had a concept in my mind. Topo maps. Blue, green, teal. Let’s do it! After a few back and forths, some feedback from family and friends, we compiled a design that both of us were really stoked about.
Huge applause to Kelvin for excellent communication during the whole process and for creating a beautiful ski. Can’t wait to get out and try it out in the PNW snow.
Below are a few photos and comments of the ski making process – so cool!
WildSnow Maiden Ski specs:
Weight (one ski, no bindings) 1450gm