I’ve purchased and disposed of a pair of skis each year, for five years, because they were either boring, would not stop turning, or offered zero improvement to my quiver. Reading ski reviews (outside of WildSnow) hasn’t helped; most are like horoscopes — written to appeal to everyone, so they inform no one. Finding demos at the right length and model is equally frustrating.
So when given the chance to design my own skis, I hoped my plight would end. This series of posts will cover my attempt to build the perfect all-around backcountry boards, with Folsom Custom Skis out of Denver, Colorado.
I’ve skied for a half-century, mostly in the Colorado backcountry. I’ve been searching for what I call the definitive “Silverton ski,” big mountain fall-line rippers that cut through multiple snow transitions and the worst conditions, that dance down steeps with short or broad turns. For this part of my quiver, I am willing to give up reduced weight for performance. The list of skis I’ve bought or tried that failed to meet these requirements would fill this blog and perhaps induce dozens of industry lawsuits.
So it dawned on me: making two or more bad ski purchases — at going rates — means that custom boards will pay for themselves — IF they work. (Haven’t yet tested this narrative on my wife, but I digress.)
To bolster my chance of success with the custom skis process, I drafted a brief for Mike McCabe, CEO and chief technology officer at Folsom. I wanted him to know all my ski biases, physical limitations and requirements. This aided the design process as we dug into details and concepts during our three-hour debrief at the manufacturing lab in Denver.
When I met with Mike, a few things worried me. I expected McCabe wouldn’t relate to my experience dating back to straight skis. Since McCabe’s crew comes from free-ride, I anticipated being steered to fatties, but mostly, I was concerned about enduring rockered shapes I did not feel I needed. Turns out I was worried about nothing. The Folsom process schooled me in ski engineering, and revealed why some off-the-rack skis won’t work for me.
Next installment: Ski Design, Engineering and Construction. Stay tuned.
(WildSnow guest blogger, Mark Gibson, learned how to ski in the AK Chugach when Cubco bindings and Head 360’s were state-of-the-art. He can often be found skiing with his dogs in Colorado’s backcountry.)