From the Chairlift

October 2, 2023

The Perfect Ski?

Ski Rental Options

I got some new skis near the end of last year.

They are from a company in Telluride Colorado called Wagner Custom Skis. A friend of the shop told me that I would like Pete Wagner and that we should figure out a way to work with him. Time went by and apparently he heard the same thing about us from his end. Eventually I called him (or he called me? Doesn’t matter-) and we had a short chat. How a retail store would partner with a brand like Wagner was not obvious, but had interest to us both. I like working with people like Pete. He is bright, interesting, and unassuming. I like him very much.

So we met in Denver one day last January and figured it out.

Pete’s company does custom skis. If you order a ski from Wagner, you get a ski that is built to be perfect for you. Yes, it is built for you and only you… it will be different from every other ski on the planet. Graphically different. Different shape. Different construction. The only ones. Built to what Wagner calls your skier DNA.

At California Ski Company we sell skis to people that we decide are the closest thing to perfect for them. We have the limitations of the manufacturers’ products, though. Very often we think that “if they only made that in a slightly smaller size,” or “if that ski was only a bit lighter,” or some other variable on the skis we have to choose from, it could be even better for our customer.

Wagner doesn’t have to do that. He gets to construct the skis exactly the way they need to be. How they need to be to be perfect. On the other hand there is immense pressure to get it right. Pete says he builds 1500 perfect skis every year. Wow, that is simply awesome.

I want to deliver perfect skis! My customers should all want perfect skis! We can now sell you a perfect ski in conjunction with Wagner Custom Skis.  We take orders and get delivery of your skis. You interface with Wagner to help him learn what he needs to to build your skis. If you buy them through us there are some advantages. You get some good add on items. Upgraded bases. Stronger edges. You can receive a free season pass to Telluride. That kind of stuff.

In addition to the Custom skis we decided to do some “house skis”. These were designed by us for our classic customers. The type of customer profile that we get a lot of. We built two men’s models and a ladies’ model.

We have the silver one that is a very versatile all mountain ski and is oriented a bit more towards groomers. This model is very refined, and accepts exacting skier input. It has a huge range of things it does well, but it is not too tiring to ski. This is a model for a very good skier that has backed off a bit because he is simply not 25 years old any more. It is the “skier’s ski” that won’t leave you too tired at the end of the day to go out to dinner,

The red ski is designed to be similar to a Blizzard Bonafide, but a bit smoother and less bouncy. The Bonafide is the best selling high performance ski in America, so my message was clear. Make it better.

The purple women’s skis are light and designed for a technically proficient, athletic skier without being too much work. Similar to the men’s Silver ski. A bit more groomer oriented but very versatile.

Pete and I worked out skier profiles for these skis and he built them. We have them for sale and we have them in Demo. If this sounds like you, then they could be your ski!

But if you want a perfect ski you should go custom. So I did…

I ordered some Wagners for myself. I filled out the questionnaire. I got the call to discuss things. We discussed what I like in a ski. What I do not like. He asked what I ski on now. I ski up to 75 different skis a year. I have about 8 pairs in my current personal ski stash. A few of them are prototypes that give him no clue to anything. I like most skis. I have learned to adapt to whatever they ask of me. In the end we came up with a description of what the ski should be. Mostly I relayed tactile feelings and a bit of what I really love. This would potentially be what I thought of as a world cup slalom ski that is made to be more “all mountain”. This should be a ski that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think about skiing it. Then, I let Pete do his job. I got the preliminary design. We talked ski physics for an hour or so as he explained his design to me (this step is only for serious ski geeks). I picked a simple top sheet design that I really love and I waited.

Then I hurt my knee- torn meniscus. Season over. Then the skis came. They were so beautiful! They were really thick. Stiff. Powerful. But I couldn’t ski them! Oh no!

So I let a few other people ski them. Two different employees went out on them. They did not like them at all. Too much ski they said. This was not the first time other people did not like the skis I really really liked personally. They also thought I would love them. I was hoping they were right.

I finally got to ski them last week. I spent two days on them.

I just don’t know what to say. I can normally review a ski pretty quickly. Good at this- bad at that- yada, yada, yada. The Wagners were not like that. I just skied. I didn’t really think about them. It was not till mid day that I even realized that was the case. I just knew I was skiing great and having a blast. so I paid more attention. The reason I didn’t think about them much turned out to be because they simply disappeared. I did not have to compensate for any single thing about the ski. I just skied and they did everything I asked of them. They never let me down.

The more I think about the skis, the more blown away I am. I realize now that every ski I own has a personality slightly off from my perfect needs. Too stiff, too soft, too this and too that. The Wagners don’t make me change for them. All other skis do.

I was going to do a comparison the second day. I had picked out Head Monster 88’s, Dynastar Power Track 89’s, and Ski Logik Front Burners to compare the Wagners to. I didn’t do it. I just skied the Wagners and marveled at how great they were. How well suited they were for me. How big the “sweet spot” is. How they combine all the great skis I have loved. How I like the graphic so much. How I just love my skis.

The perfect ski. Pete Wagner builds the perfect ski.

Eric’s skis have arrived, as have Paul’s. Ty has ordered some as well. It is a whole new game. Come play if you like. Ski the demos to see how great a ski he makes. Buy a pair off our rack if you fit the profile. Or if you want to find out what your perfect ski feels like, it is now available. It is not cheap but it is the only perfect ski made just for you. Pete guarantees it. It will be your best day ever on snow!