Maiden Skis — Made To Order

Post by blogger | March 8, 2017      
My Maiden 172cm, 138-105-124

The WildSnow ski is here! Compliments of Maiden Ski.

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 plans.

The plans.

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!

So excited!


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.

More about Maiden Skis here.

Below are a few photos and comments of the ski making process – so cool!

Bending and attaching the hardened steel edges.

Bending and attaching the hardened steel edges.

Layup of skis: attaching the VDS rubber for damping.

Layup of skis: attaching the VDS rubber for damping.

Layup -- epoxy wet out.

Layup — epoxy wet out.

Rough cutting the flashing off the skis.

Rough cutting the flashing off the skis.

Cutting skis before the final finish.

Cutting skis before the final finish.

Tuning the edges.

Tuning the edges.

WildSnow Maiden Ski specs:
Dimensions 132-105-120
Width 172cm
Weight (one ski, no bindings) 1450gm

Julia’s specs:
Height 5’9″
Weight 140#


15 Responses to “Maiden Skis — Made To Order”

  1. Harry March 8th, 2017 8:26 am

    Kelvin is fantastic. He was a founding force behind back when that was awesome. 8 Years ago when I started making skis I don’t think I could have done it without the work he put into that site or the work he put into the store to make sourcing quality materials in reasonable quantities possible. Tracking the improvements he made in his making systems over time inspired me towards the goal of continuous improvement of my own processes. I can only imagine that in the time since I last checked in he process has gotten more innovative and better.

    I am sure anyone who buys skis from him will be happy.

  2. Leslie March 8th, 2017 9:51 am

    I like how your graphics turned out!

  3. Scott Nelson March 8th, 2017 12:03 pm

    And they’re using Festool, so these guys have to be good. Cool post!

  4. XXX_er March 8th, 2017 2:55 pm

    do they use a heated press?

  5. Greg March 8th, 2017 2:56 pm

    Those graphics are awesome. Also, very nice ski design; just about what I would pick. But, come on, this is Wild Snow. What do they weigh?

  6. Werner Koch March 8th, 2017 3:20 pm

    looking awesome – topo graphics are great, remind me of contour lines: ; )

  7. Amy March 8th, 2017 4:16 pm

    These sound amazing. You and I sound very similar in terms of backcountry ski needs. I hope you love them!

  8. See March 8th, 2017 6:00 pm

    Nice looking skis. I thought this part of the post was especially interesting– “(Kelvin) 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.” That is about as helpful an explanation of tip taper (or lack thereof) that I have heard. I haven’t really liked the few skis I’ve tried with a lot of tip taper– the tips felt kind of stubby.

  9. Jonathan Mastin March 8th, 2017 8:44 pm

    Super cool….thanks for the post! Love the idea of made to order skis, and looking forward to hearing your experience with them after a few turns!

    Great work, Kelvin, and best of luck in your business.

  10. Greg Louie March 8th, 2017 9:59 pm

    I bet those skis will be just what you’re looking for. Kelvin may make his home in Jackson Hole these days but he knows a thing or two about Northwest snow!

  11. Julia Dubinina March 9th, 2017 10:55 am

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

    As Greg mentioned in the comment above, one thing I forgot to mention (shame on me!), is the weight of the ski. It comes out to 1450 grams per ski, without bindings. So excited for the weight drop, compared to my current set up.


    Maiden does use a heating press to place the graphic topsheet on the ski.

  12. JFC March 9th, 2017 5:29 pm


  13. robert lingstuyl March 10th, 2017 12:03 am

    Kelvin has helped me build a sweet swallow tail split-board and a set of light-weight backcountry touring skis. I’ve had such a great time floating on them both. Thanks man and I’m committed to a set of downhill carvers next year! The hardest part of the whole thing is coming up with a graphic that suite your personality. I didn’t even know that a Zebra was my spirit animal until I started down the path of designing my skis.

  14. Frame March 10th, 2017 7:50 am

    Nice looking ski’s. I’m over in Europe and my darling wife gave me a ski making weekend (Innsbruck). all of the above, and I did a lot of the building (thankfully they didn’t let me near the machinery, got help from the pro’s on some key steps). I hope you enjoy. I too had the shape sorted quickly, top sheet finalised a few days before…

    Mine are downhill ski’s, and I have become a bit an*l when people stand on the tails in the lift queue ;o)
    Need to go back and make some touring ski’s and skip the lift queue’s.

  15. zippy the pinhead March 10th, 2017 12:11 pm

    Are the contour lines on the topsheet from an actual map of a place that exists, or merely artistic?

    Your graphic is somewhat reminiscent of those on Scarpa boot boxes, which I’ve always thought were pretty cool.

    Happy trails…


Got something to say? Please do so.

Anti-Spam Quiz:

You can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box to left, but you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  • Ryana: I've never had the heel lifters flip up inadvertently. The brakes work for ...
  • Ryan: Those heel lifters seem to be the only real negative. I wonder if they can...
  • Joe John: Gringo, thanks for sharing the video link. That was special....
  • Rudi: Were the weld nuts epoxied in? I am wondering how you torqued the 4-40s? ...
  • gringo: Here is a video of Herve (in the red pants) doing what he did best, enjoyin...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Gringo, yes, he was a real light for us during industry work such as ISP...
  • gringo: Herve was such a good guy. So passionate about life, his family and his wor...
  • jasper: Thanks Lou. Do you know how to disconect the battery? It looks like there a...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jasper, I've not heard of any problems. When we receive Jetforce and Voltai...
  • Lou Dawson 2: 10 grams for 8 Quiver Killer inserts, so after subtracting somewhat negligi...
  • jasper: Has anybody sent their jetforce through the mail or fedex? Any issues with ...
  • dan kasha: I just skied Miller Softs in deep spring snow at Crystal Mountaib, Wa. 205...
  • Jim Milstein: Lou, I was referring to the threaded thingies glued into the skis into whic...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jim, I just count the boot inserts as part of the boot weight, since most b...
  • Jim Milstein: My black Vipecs (from last year) weigh about 500g each, brakeless, screwles...
  • See: Aside from being an ounce lighter per binding(?), being easier to click int...
  • See: Tecton claimed weight is 550g per pair, no brakes? I’m guessing that’s supp...
  • Tom Gos: So, I purchased the new Mirage walk mode kit to replace the older style one...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks Jim, yeah, I noticed on the Vipec we've got here that you can "cheat...
  • Jim Milstein: Actually, you can adjust further if you don't mind going past the "stop" ma...
  • Jim Milstein: My Black Vipecs have 25mm adjustment for bsl....
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'm working hard on the FAQs, but yeah, some of this info is hard to find. ...
  • Jeff: I am sure I am missing it somewhere do to poor search skills....does anyone...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Shannon, thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed Aaron's post. There ar...
  • Atfred: Was in the valley Blanche two days ago, skied up to point heilbrunner, then...
  • Shane: I just read that this was previously covered . Thanks...
  • Katie: It was epic, I was there. Craving more.......
  • Julia Dubinina: Hey Kyle, Just found your comment - it is April, so not sure if you hav...
  • Jim: thanks, subscribed...
  • Eli: Just a last width point, I find the "98mm" of the Atomic Backland to be ple...

  Recent Posts

Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version