Shopping for skis can be a taxing ordeal. There’s so many different shapes, sizes and styles it can be overwhelming trying to chose.
Daryl Ross is looking to make it easier with his new company Big Bend Skis, that aims to build fully customizable skis right here in Revelstoke.
“The product itself is 100 per cent hand-built and custom,” Ross said. “Everything from the guts of the ski right up to the top sheet are determined by the individual.”
Ross works by first holding a consultation with the customer. He’ll go over your height and weight, you’re style of skiing, your skill level, whether you want a resort ski or touring ski, whether you’re a telemark skier or alpine skiers, and what you’ve skied in the past.
“Based on that initial consultation, the two of us would work together and come up with the perfect ski for you,” he said. “As that process moves forward you can also totally customize the top sheet and graphics on them as well.”
Ross learned how to make his skis during an apprenticeship with Matt Neuman of Ullr Skis. The process he learned was initially developed by Michael Lish of 333 Skis, who set up an open-source manufacturing system that encouraged other builders to adopt his system and in turn, teach others how to make the skis.
The skis are build in a fairly traditional manner. First, the wood core is milled based on the design specifications. Then, the base material is prepared, followed by the edges. Then, the rest of the material is readied, including carbon fibre, which is used to adjust the stiffness of the skis.
The skis are pressed by creating a vacuum in a closed space and holding them there for 12 hours.
The philosophy behind Lish’s company was to create custom designed, handmade skis at “a working man’s wage.”
With this in mind, Ross hopes to sell his skis for less than $500. “It’s a price point I really want to meet. It’s important to me to provide a quality custom product that’s hand-built for a reasonable price.”
Ross had several models on display at his home during the interview. One model featured classic sky blue Buick graphics designed by local artist Rob Buchanan. Another had a clear top sheet with flowers embedded in the design.
“It is limitless as far as what you can have for graphics,” Ross said.
Ross, a telemark skier, was inspired to start making skis by his passion for skiing and desire to make a living out of it. While he works full-time for Parks Canada, he hopes Big Bend Skis can supplement his income for now and hopefully replace it in the future.
“You’re providing people with instruments of pure bliss and who wouldn’t want to make a personal connection to something they go out and have so much fun on,” he said.
Ross’ plan for the launch is to offer up a run of 50 skis at a reduced price to help build up a reputation. He also hopes to hold an art show displaying the finished skis.
“I’d like to offer my first run of skis as a bit of incentive for people to buy in and play a part in the start of the business and develop some loyalty that way, both from the customer and from me to the consumer,” he said.
Ross said there should be a website ready in the coming weeks. When it is up, you can find out more about Big Bend Ski at www.bigbendskis.com.
“There seems to be a lot of interest. People are pretty excited about it.”