All-mountain skis. They've been made before. But all-condition skis? Ones that can bulldoze through crud, that still have the flexibility and sheer girth to carve sweeping, surfing turns in deep powder? It sounds impossible, right? Anyone who has used a set of true powder skis on resort groomers knows they can knock your fillings out and send you straight to the spa for skeletal realignment in the hands of an aggressive massage therapist.
The geeks over at Wagner Custom Skis, under the guidance of Pete Wagner, owner/engineer and former industrial designer in the golf industry, are aiming to change all of that. After lots of work, they have come up with a new ski core that allows them to build a light, fat, crud-busting ski all in one.
The core—2-4 Ultralight, pictured above—uses a fast-growing East Coast wood soaked in the sappy liquid byproduct that you'll find flowing out of paper mills and into landfills. When the resin hardens, the wood takes on a plastic-like consistency that's strong, stiff, shock absorbent, and way lighter than other ski cores. Then the engineers at Wagner wrap it with the carbon helix core that they've already perfected. And voilà: a ski with strength, liveliness, and carvability that's 30 percent lighter than the paulownia core, the industry's lightweight baseline.
Once that supercore is turned into a new set of skis, you have a lighter, more playful ride that's able to hold its own on courduroy, hardpack, and chunder. No more crying uncle when you blast out of your next woods run onto a cat track. No more whining about tired knees and a sore back during apres—light skis take less toll on your body. Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) was so impressed by the final product, it pre-ordered a lodge's worth to provide all of its guests. Available now in any custom ski Wagner makes, $1,900; wagnerskis.com.