Do you know the difference between an Early Bird, a Puder Luder and a Ghetto Chicken? If not, it's time you entered the world of custom crafted skis.
Each year, the top manufacturers of skis like Salomon, Atomic, Rossignol, and Head grind out thousands of pairs of mass-produced alpine skis for consumers all over the world. Though, some of the largest manufacturers like Volkl and K2 aren't exclusively ski companies. Through their parent companies, they produce consumer items like Mr. Coffee coffee pots and Seal-a-Meal bags in addition to skis. While these skis may be fine for the average skier, a small sector of snow sport enthusiasts look for more from their most expensive winter purchase. They're willing to pay for it.
Most custom ski companies have originated from humble beginnings. Dan Loutrel, the owner of Birdos Skis made his first pair of fat skis in his parents' basement using a vacuum cleaner and some inexpensive epoxy glue. After skiing them during the winter of 2003 in Andermatt, Switzerland, word began to spread about his body shop-painted skis that could literally transform a person's skiing overnight. Since that time, a number of custom ski makers have emerged, offering the discriminating client an opportunity to build their own skis that are perfectly tuned to their height, weight, skiing style, and the types of conditions they enjoy.
At Folsom Customs in Boulder, Colorado, founder and lead designer Jordan Grano interviews each client to insure that the ski he builds for them will be perfectly suited to their skiing style. Grano focuses his attention on building the ultimate freeskiing and freeride ski designed for all mountain and terrain park skiing. The process begins by submitting a modest deposit and completing a comprehensive questionnaire to determine the appropriate length, shape and flex pattern of your skis. Average cost of the ski is between $850 and $1,500.
Peter Wagner of Wagner Skis in Telluride, Colorado, takes a more hands on approach. After completing an online questionnaire, one of Wagner's expert ski designers interviews their clients to map their "skier DNA." They'll even help them design the graphics that are applied to the skis' top sheet to insure they say something unique with their pair of custom made skis. They advertise "World Cup bases, quality hardwood cores, aerospace resins and custom cosmetics" that are perfectly matched to their clients' current skiing ability and the type of skier they'd like to be.
Claudio Mazzoni at Spoilt Skis has built a special printing press, so people can gawk in the lift line at images of their favorite rock star applied to the surface of their skis.
Looking for a truly handmade product? ScottyBob of Scottybob Skis will assign a single craftsman to hand make your skis from beginning to end. Scottybob uses a patented asymmetrical design that maximizes the unique carving pressures on the right and left skis.
Should you buy a custom made pair of skis? Well, that depends. If you're the type of skier who demands the same amount of performance from your skis that you do from your boots, snowboards, and bikes, then the answer could be yes. You can enjoy a handcrafted ski that has been designed with you in mind - not one of the other 400,000 skiers - for an additional few hundred dollars.