Reverse camber, full rocker, sidecut, park and pipe, all-mountain, freestyle — let’s face it, there’s a lot to know in the world of ski and snowboard technologies. And it seems like every year there’s a “next big thing.”
Our recommendation: Try before you buy. With the holiday season at the doorstep, a lot of ski and snowboard companies are making the rounds to area resorts and offering free demos on a wide variety of models.
It’s a good idea to check with local resorts and keep an eye out for demo days.
“It’s just like test driving a car,” said ski designer Matt Cudmore, owner of Colorado-based Meier Skis. He often recommends that people use demo days to “try something different,” step outside of your go-to board or skis and see what else is out there.
So, in the interest of seeing what’s out there, we spent some time with representatives from a few ski and apparel companies set up at Copper Mountain this weekend for “Colorado Days.” The event runs through Sunday, Nov. 17, and features exclusively Colorado-based companies offering demos and showcasing apparel.
We took a little time to chat with representatives from Meier Skis, Leadville- and Denver-based apparel company Freeride Systems, and the Liberty and RMU ski companies.
Here are some quick hits on each.
Going green is the theme with Meier Skis, based in Glenwood Springs. Cudmore expanded a little on his company’s primary ethos. It’s focused on maintaining a small carbon footprint, keeping manufacturing local and using recycled material whenever possible.
“We use all locally harvested wood,” Cudmore said of the materials his company uses. Along with aspen, his skis are also made of salvaged beetle-kill pine. A creative solution for sustainability.
Meier also keeps the chemicals used for things like topsheet designs to a minimum.
Cudmore started the company in a one-car garage in 2009.
Freeride Systems outdoor apparel
Freeride produces 100 percent domestically manufactured outdoor apparel, and 90 percent of it is made right here in Colorado, said company communications manager Ben Coon and owner Mike Collins.
Coon and Collins said the inspiration for their company’s apparel comes from taking the best features of other popular apparel companies and incorporating them into their designs and, most important, keeping production stateside.
“You’re going to make less profit,” said Collins of their production approach, “but you have a bigger social impact creating what we’re selling right here.”
Founded in Leadville with production facilities in Denver and in California, the company recently earned a contract with ABC News to supply its staff with outdoor apparel. Collins believes keeping production domestic was a big part of what earned him the contract.
Rocky Mountain Underground
Also founded in a garage, RMU is one of a number of independent ski companies using industry giant and Colorado-based Never Summer’s snowboard production facility in Denver to manufacture its skis.
Fellow Colorado ski company Icelantic also uses the facility. Known for its variety of park and pipe, all-mountain and freestyle skis, RMU this year added a sort of hybrid all-mountain ski to its arsenal with the 90mm sidecut Climax ski.
“We wanted something to help people transition to a wider ski,” said company representative Jess Pettee.
The Climax is a narrower version of last year’s popular 100mm underfoot CRM.
Founded in Avon, the Liberty ski company outgrew its production capabilities and now manufacture oversees.
Research and design and company headquarters are still in Colorado.
What’s cool with them? Bamboo.
“All of our skis are bamboo,” said company representative Colin Sutherland. “They’re lightweight, super-fun and playful.”
The focus? “We’re trying to hit the everyday skier,” he said.
Liberty skis are easily recognizable with their elaborate topsheet designs.