“My firstborn” The Art of Building Skis in Austria – A DIY Story
I remember very well the first pair of new skis I ever got. They were definitely the best present under the Christmas tree that year. And once I’d tried them on, I certainly did not want to take them off. So I skied across the carpet in our living room the whole evening, dreaming of snowy days to come.
Two decades later. It’s a cold winter’s day as I sit down to write this story, overlooking my desk and the rest of the room, where a pair of skis leans against the wall. They are the best and most beautiful wooden skis I could ever imagine. I can’t help but smile. They are my Christmas present to myself. Made by me…
… with a little help from my friends in Austria. What sounds like an impossible thing to do on your own is business as usual for Michael, Peter and the ski building crew in Innsbruck, Tirol.
Michael, the founder and co-owner of the company SPURart, is a keen skier himself and has been in the ski testing business for over 10 years. In search of perfection, he started experimenting and building his own skis. Soon afterwards, he founded the company. These days, the product range has grown larger and the quality has improved with each ski leaving the workshop.
The ski building workshop lasts two consecutive days. We start by bending the edges to fit the shape of the running surface. Knowing that you’re building our own ride, everyone present seems to take extra care to do everything right. Soon after, we begin laminating layer after layer, gluing the wooden core into place. “The core is the heart and soul of the ski and this is why we trust Mother Nature for the best quality,” Michael explains.
The top sheet comes last, and this is where the design shows. Although large prints are possible, most of the workshop participants prefer a wooden veneer surface – possibly made extra fancy through laser engravings. I myself go for the untouched wooden look.
After sticking all of the layers together, it is time to rest. Overnight, the skis have to go into the oven – literally to bake – as the resin can only set at a certain temperature.
The next morning, it is time to get the skis out of the oven and open the sealed packages to see how our rides have turned out. One by one, using an electric jigsaw, we cut out the skis and sand them into shape, first by using the grinding machine, then by hand.
It seems unreal, but all of a sudden these layers of wood, fibreglass and resin turn into a proper pair of skis. If I didn’t know better, I would think that they had been built in a commercial factory. All they miss now is a final grinding and edge tuning by an expert.
A week later, I am up on the mountain practicing my skiing with my brand new skis. Unlike any of my store-bought snowboards, I feel there is something special about riding my own work. Including the fact that whenever I’m asked what brand my skis are, I get to say: mine!
Ski building workshops: Start at €790 (plus veneer + optional laser engravings)
If you go:
Innsbruck is a great town for a weekend trip! After the first day of the workshop, enjoy a drink up at Bar 360° (Rathausgalerien, 7th floor) and then grab a delicious vegetarian dinner at Olive (Leopoldstrasse 36). But don’t party too hard, because you’ll still have some work to do the next day! After you finish the workshop, you might still have to time to view the city from above, as near to the studio is the cable car up to Nordkette mountain, and it’s only an 8 minute ride to the top.