A thoughtfully designed, well-made custom product fits the owner like a glove, whether it’s an Italian suit or a bespoke motorcycle. But when it comes to sports and active hobbies, something magic happens. Custom tools and gear, apart from feeling ‘just right’, provide optimum control and enable users to improve their performance and maximize their potential in order to become faster, stronger, better. On the green surface of a golf course or on brilliant white mountain slopes.
As a mechanical engineer and computer scientist who developed software for the production of custom carbon fiber shafts for pro golfers, Pete Wagner knew how a finely tuned tool could enhance performance. As a passionate skier, he was also aware that this scientific method of personalizing gear wasn’t used in the ski industry.A disappointing experience drove this point home but also paved the way towards a major breakthrough. "About 15 years ago, I bought a pair of skis that I thought would be great for me. They were the right length and width and were made by a respected ski company. A couple months later, I tried another set of skis and realized that the skis I bought [initially] were not good for me," says Wagner. At the time, the cycling and golf industries had begun to rely heavily on customization, so converting his unique golf software into a ski-specific one was the next logical step.
Surprisingly (or not), major brands weren’t curious about the innovative method of optimizing skis. "I thought a large ski manufacturer might be interested in my code, but found no interest. I was in the right time and place in my life, so I decided to just go for it." In 2006, Wagner Custom was born in the charming town of Telluride, Colorado. The small but state-of-the-art factory began the process of revolutionizing the industry, one product at a time."I designed the first pair of Wagner Custom skis for myself," explains Wagner. Afterward, skis made for the company’s employees enabled the team to perfect the manufacturing method and fine-tune the design software. Believing that every skier has unique needs and preferences, Wagner developed the ingenious Skier DNA concept.
The design stage revolves around the user and starts with mapping his or her "skier DNA" by using information on physical traits, terrain, riding behavior, personal preferences, and goals. "Our process enables people to maximize their precious time in the mountains rather than worry about their equipment," says Wagner. Based on this complex algorithm, the team creates an optimized ski design for the customer, with variations applying to the ski length and width, sidecut radius, tip and tail shapes, materials, stiffness, and flex pattern, among others. But this doesn’t limit the skier’s terrain options. On the contrary, the brand’s custom skis have a bigger ‘sweet spot’ than standard designs. For example, we found out that our Skier DNA test recommended an off-piste and softer snow design, which will also work well on harder terrain and in different snow conditions. Win-win, in our book.Next comes the manufacturing stage: using a unique recipe for each pair of skis, computer-controlled machines cut all the components to perfection, including ptex bases and sidewalls, wood cores, structural layers, and steel edges. Skilled artisans then take over, assembling and pressing the skis before adding the finishing touches.
Wagner Custom’s hands-on approach enables the brand to gain an advantage over larger manufacturers. By optimizing the design and manufacturing process as well as guaranteeing 100% customer satisfaction, the company offers its customers their ideal pair of made-to-order skis, enabling skiers to unleash their potential with the help of smarter, one-of-a-kind products crafted to suit specific requirements. This not only makes the brand grow through word-of-mouth referrals, but it also ensures that it’s greener than most other companies which mass-produce standard skis.Much like a bespoke Italian suit that fits its wearer beautifully, Wagner Custom skis feel just right, yet they also free the skier from any restraints and limits. They allow the owner to ski better. Smarter. Freer. And maybe even see skiing in a new light and rediscover the magical feeling of sliding on the slopes for the first time, inhaling the brisk winter while leaving an undulating trail on the glittering snow. Images courtesy of Wagner Custom.
This article first appeared on Gessato.
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