The Custom Ski Is Always Right

What pleases a curmudgeon? His very own Wagners.

When my older brother was best man at my wedding, I had a pair of custom skis made for him at Igneous. But he forgot to lock the rack when he went to get them mounted, and they flipped off the roof on the freeway, where they were ground into pavement by a Mack truck.

“Hey bro,” he said when he called. “You’re not going to like this…”

That was almost 10 years ago. Long before my custom-made ‘Shred White and Bluebirds’ showed up at the door from Wagner Custom Skis, and my wife asked, “Are you going to hang them on the wall?” eyeing the red and blue colored boards as if they were twin pieces of art.

“Definitely,” I replied. “But I’m going to spend a couple years skiing the hell out of them first.”

After all, designing the skis along with the brand’s founder, Pete Wagner, had felt like applying for a mail-order bride or beginning the adoption process. After starting online with Wagner’s eight-page “Skier DNA” questionnaire, conducting an over-the-phone interview, then fine-tuning the ski’s profile and topsheet art, there was no way these skis were going to spend their life under glass.

A ski Wagner built for Hot Tub Time Machine

“What were your favorite skis? What’s your favorite terrain? And where do you mostly ski?” were just a few of the questions Wagner asked. In a lengthy conversation that also covered tequila, literature and renewable energy, I felt as if I were talking to a master carpenter about to remodel my kitchen cabinets or a London tailor about to make me my first bespoke suit.

From his wind and solar-powered factory in Telluride, Wagner has made his name building bomber product for pro riders, stockbrokers and Skids—and even for the producers of Hot Tub Time Machine, who wanted dozens of skis with a specific retro look. Wagner started in the golf industry, where he developed a custom-fitting system and software platform for designing, analyzing and manufacturing high-tech clubs. Soon, his frustration with mass manufactured skis led him to develop a completely customizable alpine experience.

Following our extensive consultations, here’s what he e-mailed back:

“Just ran your specs through our system. Here’s our initial recommendation:
> Length: 187cm
> Tip-Waist-Tail: 136mm-101mm-124mm
> Sidecut radius: 21m
> Core: Sugar Maple/White Ash for a lively, smooth ride and great durability
> Construction: Fiberglass with Aramid reinforced bases, sidewalls, and edges for low swingweight and good durability
> Tip Shape: powder with 15-10 rocker (see attached .pdf for perimeter shape)
> Tail Shape: all-mountain for versatility (see attached .pdf for perimeter shape)
> Flex pattern: Balanced. Tail slightly stiffer than tip.
> Stiffness: Medium. Calibrated for your height, weight, and skier preferences.
> Recommended base: Super Durable, High-Carbon base
> Graphic: Shred, White, and Bluebird
> Rocky Mountain softsnow chargers. These are going to be versatile and fun.
Let me know your thoughts.”

After looking at those beautiful boards against my office wall all summer, my thoughts are that this winter I will get to enter my own personal piece of performance art. I’m expecting a moving masterpiece of landscape, and a compulsion to check that the roof rack is locked. Check back at ElevationOutdoors.com for on-the-snow updates on how hard these skis rock. And start dreaming of creating your own custom cruise at wagnerskis.com.

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