GLENWOOD SPRINGS - A wild idea grew out of a recent chat between Glenwood ski maker Matt Cudmore and Joe Risi, production assistant for the Carbondale-based backcountry skiing blog, WildSnow.com.What if they harvested an aspen tree near Marble, and transported it by bicycle trailer to a local mill?From there, the rough-cut boards would be taken, by bike again, to Cudmore's new Meier Skis production shop at Cattle Creek, where they would be turned into a pair of Meier skis.The newly crafted skis would then be biked back to Carbondale for delivery to Lou Dawson, a backcountry ski legend, author and founder of WildSnow.He would eventually bike up to the base of Mount Sopris, skis in tow, hike up to the summit and ski down.Voil, a completely local, low-carbon-footprint ski adventure, from forest to alpine ski descent.Of course, it's just a brainstorm at this point, with a lot of technical details to work out.But that's kind of how it all got started for Cudmore and Meier Skis.And it's just the kind of notoriety he has gotten used to over the past year since his locally grown "Skis Made from Colorado Trees" business has taken off.What began in a small garage shop a couple of years ago, has now expanded to a full-scale commercial production shop and small showroom in the Valley View Business Center on Highway 82.After building 50 or so pairs of skis per year by hand since starting the business in 2009, Cudmore is now looking to top 300 pairs this season."Our goal is to do six pairs a day, and the way things are going we should be able to double that next year," Cudmore said. "The community has really embraced us, and is excited about what we're doing."A recent grand opening at the new shop drew 350 people, and the Meier Skis' Facebook page has 700 fans and growing each day."We have way more work than I ever imagined last year at this time," Cudmore said. "But it's awesome, I'm living the dream."
A series of local and regional newspaper articles last ski season about Cudmore's journey from building his own "perfect pair of skis" to making them for others helped spread the name.Meier comes from his wife Rosanna's maiden German name, Meier-Grolman.Cudmore's skis use nothing but Colorado-grown aspen and pine, including a regular stock of blue stain beetle-kill pine."We're taking the devastation from the beetle kill and turning it into something beautiful with these skis," Cudmore said.Word quickly spread about his unique approach to ski-making, including the fact that he was looking for an investor to help expand the business.That person surfaced in a Colorado businessman and ski enthusiast from the little Front Range foothills town of Pine by the name of Ted Eynon."I needed a partner who was fully wanting to work on this with me," Cudmore said. "I interviewed Ted up at Sunlight last year. He's not only really into what we're doing, he's a rippin' skier himself."Meier Skis has since gained mention in Denver's Westword, Time Magazine, Outside Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.And, while Meier Skis are making their way around the world, the focus is still very much local.Delta Timber Co. supplies the wood, "and everything else is done right here in the shop," Cudmore said. "We do the engineering, build them, market them, everything."His wife, Rosanna, quit her job to handle promotions and marketing for the new business.Woodshop veteran Chris Kennedy and recent college graduate Chris Dean round out the production team with Cudmore.Cudmore also took a business start-up class through the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center.Meier Skis can be found at Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop in Glenwood Springs, and this season at the new Cripple Creek Backcountry Exchange in Carbondale."We're working on locations in Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge," Cudmore said.Customers can still order from the selection of skis online at MeierSkis.com. But even those sales are now funneled through local retail outlets, all in keeping with the sustainability theme."We want to save the brick and mortar stores, and not screw them out of things," Cudmore said. "That way people are also paying sales tax and supporting their community."
Meier Skis also now has nine sponsored athletes, including a recent winner in the Teva Mountain Games who pulled a front flip on a pair of Meier telemark skis."We'd love to see one or more of them in the X Games this year at Buttermilk," Cudmore said. "That would be huge."New to the Meier Ski selections this year is the "Johnny Ringo." Glenwood Springs High School students Tim Burr and Dylan Hogan helped with the ski's design.Meier Skis is also working to develop more involvement with area youth, as well as other local business relationships.The shop itself hosts regular events geared toward the younger set, including movie nights and ski film screenings.The shop also offers a ski tuning service, and will rent demo skis for the day during the upcoming season.And, the "Meier Mobile" van can be found at demo days at Sunlight Mountain Resort and other Colorado resorts throughout the upcoming ski season.