Be Honest

The fourth step in buying custom skis: be honest about how you ski

Sep 30, 2011
Outside Magazine
In the shop

In the shop    Photo: Courtesy of Ski Logik

Folsom and Wagner start you off with a questionnaire (sample question: “What boots do you use and what flex are they?) On December 16, David Mazzerella at SkiLogik called me on Skype from his factory on the island of Hainan, China, where he and has family have lived since 2008. He basically wanted to know my size, my skiing background, and what I intended to use the skis for. I told him I’d had season passes at Jackson Hole, Steamboat, and at Hood Meadows, and that I’d primarily be using the boards he built me for lift serviced powder skiing in Oregon and Wyoming and an occasional backcountry lap off Teton Pass.

“Do you like to make bouncing powder turns or pro-style big mountain turns?” he asked.  I told him that I’d be racing other skiers for the fresh snow at the area, so the latter would be more appropriate for these skis.

“Do you ski backwards at all?” he asked. “Not on purpose,” I answered. Exaggerating your capabilities or the conditions you ski in will only get you skis that are less than perfect.

“Have you ever used a pair of skis wider than 100mm?” I told him I owned a pair of 184 mm-long Black Diamond Justice skis with alpine touring bindings and I loved them. They are 115 mm underfoot.

“Do you want your skis to be wider, narrower, or about the same?” he asked. “Or do you want me to decide?” “You are the maestro,” I answered.

“For sidecut, do you want something with carving capabilities?” I told him I would be on new snow about 75 percent of the time with these skis. Ideally 100 percent of the time, but I wanted to play it safe.

He asked about the weight of the skis and I decided to leave it up to him. We talked for about 30 minutes about my skiing experience and his design process. He said that he visualizes the skier and how they’d like to ski, “half the time with my eyes closed. Maybe it pops into my mind twenty times over the course of a few days, once or twice deeply.” Then he works with the engineer to create a CAD model, which goes through a few revisions before they cut materials and prepare tooling “to give birth to a new ski.” Cool, I thought, do whatever you need to do. Hell, light some candles throw on an Enya CD if you think that’ll get me a sweeter ski.

A day or so later, he emailed me: “Are you buttering turns in pow, feathering, doing spins or other new school tricks in pow. I'm thinking not, but need to make sure.” I replied that I didn’t even know what those questions meant, and was fine with that.

Then the next day he sent this email:

Alright. I've drawn up a design for you and done several revisions already and I'm happy with it. Yours is 120 underfoot with a 24 meter radius and 148 in the tip, 137 in the tail, 182 cm long, straight tail in the back with slight rise, and a 310 mm rockered tip. It'll be good for you in big mountain turns, and I'll give it a fairly stiff flex underfoot and through the tip with a longer radius rocker to float you over wind buffed and eat up crust. You're a pretty light guy and this will float you really well. I considered going wider, but at this width you'll really be able to pressure down on the forebody and ski the powder rather than just ride over it all. I'll use a lightweight construction, so although it's big, it won't feel heavy on your feet. I'm putting about 7 mm of camber underfoot - you won't have any problem grabbing an edge if you have to and that will also help when you're hitting crust in the tip. 

Reading the plan, I knew it wasn’t anything radical, but that it would fit perfectly.