Fat-ypus skis reflect owners’ ideals
December 20, 2005
BRECKENRIDGE – They are, by conservative standards, an outrageous pair of skis. Wider at their tips than the narrowest of snowboards, lighter in weight than your typical powder skis, Rockwell 48 steel edges, a Durasurf sintered base and a name to ruffle the tail feathers of any Grandpa Tom of the ski industry: the Fat-ypus.Halfway up the E Chair in Breckenridge recently, Fat-ypus co-founder Jared Mazlish lays it out pretty straight. “They’re the best all-purpose pow skis on the market,” he says, casting a careful glance at the terrain below. “Other skis, if they’re good for the (Powder) Eights, then they’re lousy for the cliff jumping. Ours is good for the Eights, the backcountry, the aggressive big mountain skiing. The Fat-ypus just opens up so many doors that were closed to you before.”The door today, Mazlish says, will be the Peak 9 Chutes. He and fellow Fat-ypus founder Dave Gelhaar cut a hard left at the top of the E Chair, hug the high line to the right and shed their skis near a gate. A few years back Mazlish was ranked in the top 15 on the International Free Skiing Association (IFSA) Extreme Tour, and he still holds the record for the biggest inbounds competition air – 120 feet at Snowbird. Gelhaar, in his own right, is what Mazlish calls a classic “soul skier,” hitting the mountain 120 days a season, ripping hard and plowing deep.
The ritual of shedding their skis en route to the backcountry is clearly one they’re accustomed to. Mazlish and Gelhaar heave their Fat-ypuses over their shoulders and start the arduous ascent to the Chutes: up a groomed path, across a sheer face of Peak 9 and finally down to a narrow tongue of untouched powder.”We couldn’t get the dream ski,” Mazlish says as he hikes. “With the experience we have, we knew what was needed out there.”The problem was simple, as far as Gelhaar (a bartender at the Breck Brewery) and Mazlish (a school teacher and freestyle moguls coach) saw it: The sport of skiing was progressing toward wider specs, and yet the widest skis on the market were either too heavy or were incapable of adapting to backcountry, big-mountain and park skiing – the terrains Mazlish and Gelhaar had been progressively testing since their first season together in Breck back in 1989.The resolution, they decided three years ago, would begin with a snowboard. Mazlish and Gelhaar pulled an old board and a metal Skil saw out of the garage. Then they cut a 60-centimeter sliver from the center of the deck and reattached the two halves with metal plates.
“It started out a real grassroots approach,” Gelhaar admits, but nonetheless, the first Fat-ypus prototype was finished.”We used to ski those on Loveland Pass and have so much fun on them,” Gelhaar says of the original model, as he reaches the traverse to the Chutes. He explains there that the name “Fat-ypus” is a tribute to the broad-billed, flat-footed monotreme of the outback – the platypus. Fat-ypus just had a ring to it.”It never really was about the company,” Gelhaar continues. “It was about making a fun pair of skis.”Fast forward two years, and the fathers of the Fat-ypus stood on the podium’s runner-up rung at the 2005 Breckenridge Powder Eights, a finish Mazlish attributes largely to the performance of their skis.”It was kind of an iffy day, and the Fat-ypus definitely helped,” he says. “People were looking at us like we had a secret weapon on our feet.”
Now it was about the company. Mazlish and Gelhaar had gone through half a dozen prototypes; their last – the “A-Lotta” – came from a manufacturer in Denver (not their garage). With the attention at the Eights, they decided it was time to launch. They sold 12 sets of skis at the end of the season (at $800 a pair), and designed a new line for the fall: the “G-Butter” park ski. They plan on traveling throughout the west this year – from Whistler to Reno, Jackson Hole to Park City – where they’ll cater their skis to Cat operations, heli-ski operators and demo shops.”Our ski is an inevitable part of the progression of the sport right now with the way it’s moving,” Mazlish says confidently. Then he decides to show why. He and Gelhaar have reached the top of the Chutes, and the run below is intimidating: a narrow syphon through two stands of trees with a fragile ribbon of powder running down the middle.Mazlish pushes his skis parallel to the slope and accelerates down. Gelhaar follows close behind, pressing clean eights into the snow. The Fat-ypuses never dig beneath the surface, never even stick in the pasty powder.At the bottom of the slope, Mazlish grins in the 7-degree air. Traditionalists, extreme riders, even ski patrol – one day they all will see the fruits of the Fat-ypus.
“Everyone has to deal with the pow,” Mazlish says before riding off.Andrew Tolve can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13629, or at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Fat-ypus is available for purchase or demo at Mountain Wave and Primo Sports in Breckenridge. More information is available at http://www.fatypus.com.