CUSTOMS: THE TEST
Having decided to tailor his own skis from Snoday in Canada, STYLE ALTITUDE contributor, Jonathan 'Bing' Bingham, and fiancé, Tracy Smith, put them to the test in the French Alps on the piste and powder.You have customised road bikes and surf boards - and now skis and snowboards tailored to your ability, agility aggressiveness, body type, boot size, preferred terrain and goals. But how do they ride?
Professional athletes from across the globe have been using custom sports equipment to ensure that they maximise performance and have a product tailored for their specific personal needs. This is slowly beginning to become available to the likes of you and me. Sports such as surfing, SUPing and cycling have seen a steady increase in demand for customised products.
Being a seasoned Freerider with roots in racing, I have always been keen to keep up with current developments within the industry and spend hours each autumn researching, chatting on forums, reading test results and, when possible, I like to demo different models early season to see if the latest innovations to hit the retailers has improved the skis' performance.
Over the past decade there have been huge developments within the ski industry making skiing far more accessible and more enjoyable with the introduction of wider ski profiles, tip and tail rocker, flip core and amphibio technology to name a few.
It has allowed a skier to maximise the ‘fun’ factor and enable skiers of all abilities to make the most of whatever conditions are available on the day.
I placed my order with www.Snoday.ca a small friendly Canadian handmade ski company producing tailored skis. Such is the increase in demand that Snoday are doubling their custom ski prodution that they make every year.
According to John Hromyk, owner/ski builder of Snoday, 'We can design specific profiles or tailor-make any of our existing models to suit any clients parameters. Also, business owners can finally brand their custom skis and expense it through their company. BONUS'.
My decision was influenced by a friend’s recommendation but also helped by the fact that I spent my first season working in Alberta Banff and have fond memories of the people I met and the passion and respect they have for the mountains.
I have always wanted to build a ski that is tailored to my riding mission and terrain of choice.
The skis are specifically designed for my weight, strength, agility, aggressiveness, body type, boot size, preferred terrain, and goals.
This all translates into better control in challenging terrain, less stress on the body, greater confidence, more consistent performance and more fun on the slopes - and you know you're on a perfect-fit product.
To add that personalised touch you can also customise the graphics, while knowing that the materials used are the finest available and are produced using native woods, which are hand selected to suit the purpose. They cost from £600 upwards, depending on custom level.
So I ordered my custom skis from John at www.snoday.ca back in October. After an agonising wait for them, complicated by an unfortunate problem with their supplier of the laminated top sheets, they arrived in plenty of time for my trip to the French Alps. They were well-packaged from their flight across the 'Pond' and in pristine condition.
The Snoday tribe were great at communicating during the process, sending weekly email updates complete with pictures and videos throughout the various stages of the skis' construction, only adding to the anticipation and excitement.
Not only did I order custom skis from Snoday but, also, my fiancé Tracy, who came out the Alps with me to test them out. Tracy was riding Hero Candys and Pow Wow Fangs, both mounted with Marker Tour bindings. I was riding Guerrillas for occasional piste skiing but designed primarily for ski touring and Kuthroats for the big powder days, both skis mounted with Dynafit FT bindings. Refer to the www.snoday.ca website for more details on ski dimensions and the models as there is a shape for every type be it piste skier or off piste guru.
We spent three days in Chamonix followed by almost two weeks based in Serre Chevalier with snow fortunately falling on and off since we arrived. All types of terrain were skied: on piste, off-piste, through the trees, over some jumps, wind pack, deep powder and, unfortunately, the odd granite rock. We even enlisted the help of Mathieu, a local friend and mountain guide, to help push the skis and our abilities to find out just what and how these skis can handle.
We hiked to the Cucumelle summit (see Tracy, below) and scored fresh tracks all the way to Monetier Les Bains; opened up couloirs over in Italy Sestriere skiing on the face of the Mont Motta shadowed by the peak of Mont Rognosa; blasted on and off-piste on a sunny day in Montgenevre; shot through the world renowned steep Villeneuve and Chantemerle trees in knee deep powder and we giggled like children the whole way down as we've had so much fun.
What was surprising was the ease with which the skis adapt to the terrain and the stability at speed given the size of the all terrain shovels. Tip chatter was non-existent even on the rockered Kuthroats and Pow Wows no matter how hard I pushed. Obviously, these rockered all-mountain skis are not primarily designed to be used on piste but, given time on the edge, they will carve a turn with the best of them. Flex is smooth and progressive thanks to the hand-selected Maple and Popular string cores and, having had the camber/rocker/flex of the ski tailored specifically to your personal requirements and goals, really means the skis are perfectly balanced for you. However hard pushed the ski will still respond
Tracy said she has never felt so good off-piste and in the deep powder as she did on her Pow Wows and everywhere she goes with her Hero Candys she attracts attention with the stand out graphics.
Overall, I would say the future lies with custom skis if you like to be different, have a passion for skiing and equipment, want to stand out from the crowd. Most importantly, they will enable every rider to get the most enjoyment out of days skiing.
Is that not what we all want? .