We’ve always invested in good outdoor equipment, but with the arrival of our baby boy, we are also working hard to make the right investments when it comes to purchasing gear. So in the past while we might have gone for the flashy new skis that promised to perform awesome in backcountry powder, but might not be so great for resort riding, these days we look for a ski that rides well in multiple conditions and also is built to last.
So when my husband began looking for new skis last August, he looked for a pair that was versatile: one he could rip through the resort on, but also use as a back-country touring set-up. He was also looking for durability, needing a product that could stand up to a minimum of six seasons of riding, because our days of upgrading equipment annually has passed.
That’s when we came across Wagner Custom Skis in Telluride. The idea of a custom ski, tailored specifically to your personal needs, as well as having off the charts reviews for durability, lasting for years on end was really appealing. While the initial cost was definitely more than we’d have paid for non-custom skis in the shop, the fact that these skis would be made exclusively for TJ, meant he wouldn’t have to upgrade again for at least a decade, which meant we’d be saving money in the long run. With all this in mind, we decided to make an investment in the custom ski market.
It’s a fun process too, getting custom skis made. It begins with a phone interview from Wagner Custom Skis, where they cover all the basics like height, weight, style and terrain. During the interview, TJ engaged in the normal ski banter, chatting about the East Coast terrain he grew up learning to ski on and places that he and the designer both had visited. The top sheet design for your ride is also selected at this time. For this you can either use one of the great prints offered by Wagner or email a photo of a personalized design. My husband instantly went for the personalized top sheet and sent the graphic for a painting he once created. TJ, an artist, used to show at galleries around Denver, and having skied since the age of 10, a personal painting coming to life as a ski was the apparent go-to. The interview wrapped up with the specifics for a custom ski for both backcountry touring and resort riding in mind. After hanging up, TJ was definitely excited and couldn’t stop smiling:
“This is unreal! My own custom skis!”
Wagner Custom Skis is the brainchild of Pete Wagner who created software to build custom-fit golf clubs before he started his ski company in 2006. Today the company has about a dozen employees and produce around 1,500 pairs of skis a year. The skis take about 12 hours over two weeks to craft, and the company stays in touch throughout the process. Over the next few weeks, Wagner Skis contacted TJ via email, giving updates, discussing ski length, width, flexibility and graphic positioning. Since the top sheet design was one of TJ’s personal paintings, the graphic designer sent 3 different prints for the final top sheet — they chose three after careful research on what parts of the painting would look the best. Then came the day when an email arrived under the subject “Birth Announcement!” The email stated:
“Congratulations, your skis were born November 2nd 2017!”
With a photo attached below, TJ was as giddy as he was the day our son was born.
In addition to the custom skis, Wagner also includes a custom mount for bindings, which requires you to send one boot and your bindings to the headquarters. The final email came a few days later stating the skis were on their way.
Unwrapping the box was so exciting. The skis looked as good as TJ imagined, and he couldn’t wait to hit the slopes when they opened. TJ has been riding a number of times since, and couldn’t be happier.
“These Stix cut right through the resort packed corduroy, shred the tight trees and handle the deepest pow on the steeps. I’ve never skied on anything like this before,” he told me after our ski trip to Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho where these skis made a debut. As for the touring aspect, TJ went with a tech-binding set-up, which helps the lightweight ski slide effortlessly through the Colorado backcountry as well as down untouched champagne powder stashes, providing the exact versatility in a ski we were looking for.
Stretching your dollar is important with parenting, new responsibilities require you to spend money in ways you never thought you would, however keeping who you are and the activities you love are just as important. With a custom ski from Wagner Custom Ski, TJ will keep these skis for a long time, and since WCS took so much time considering detail and overall use, he doesn’t need to think about what skis to ride for a long time, leaving more time to figure out where and when to get our son into skiing so we can all ride, because the family that shreds together, stays together.