Finding a break in his busy schedule, I was able to catch up with Ashley Hart of Icelantic Skis of Denver, Colorado. He had just returned from sailing around the South Pacific where he was hanging out with fellow Icelantic employees. Not a bad place to be to try and relax and get away from thinking about snow almost all year long.
Icelantic is one of the pioneers of the indie & handmade ski world having started production in 2004 and isÂ also one of the leaders in artistic topsheets as well.Â They are the first ones to my knowledge to have begun creating works of art for an entire line of skis. Even though many skis now haveÂ meticulously designed topsheets available to their customers, Icelantic was and still is at the forefront of this trend. Their theme for this year’s lineup of skis is “Explore your mind”.
As Ashley told me, artist Travis Parr is responsible for the iconic artwork and has worked with founder Ben Anderson since Icelantic’s first pair of skis were pressed. Ben and Travis, through ski design and fine art, were committed to building bothÂ a brand and community. This is evident through their repeat business and the firm’s continued growth in the ski industry.
Recently, Icelantic skis has moved intoÂ a much larger facility, which is about 4 times larger than their previous one. Not only will the new shop enable them to manufacture a higher volume of skis, it will also greatly streamline their manufacturing process, which as Ashley stated “would cut down on waste as they have become much more efficient”. He loves the new location in old town Denver, which also is home toÂ the high end ski apparel company Spyder.
New for the upcoming 2013-14 will be the SKNY (pronounced “skinny”) line which consists of a skinnier version of Icelantic’s top 3 skis: Shaman, Pilgrim & Nomad. By introducing these new models, they are hoping to capture some skiers who are looking to be able to ride Icelantic’s on the non-powder day and also provide more options to the east coasters.
As for growth, Icelantic can now be found in 95 ski shops across the country and are available in 17 countries. Although most skis are sold here in the US, Icelantic has evolved into a world wide supplier of iconic, award winning skis.
When you purchase a pair of Icelantic’s you are not just getting a rad looking pair of boards. You are also buying a pair ofÂ skis that rank very high in the annual magazine tests for performance and potentially, best of all for value shoppers like me, skis that endure. With a low single digit warranty return ratio, Icelantic has to be near the top in quality ski manufacturing.
Not only does Icelantic produce skis, they now have a softgoods line of lifestyle clothes, which includes some swag flannels and beanies.
Their biggest undertaking however, is their recent opening of a their new line of ski boots. First Degree ski boots are a 3 piece design with a ribbed tongue. Looking at a pair, they seem to be a cross between of a classic pair of Raichle/Full Tilt boots and a traditional wrap 4 buckle boot.
Interesting as Full Tilt’s are known for having an even flex throughout their flex pattern and the ease of getting into and out of the boots. The 4 buckle designed boots shell’s strong points are the solid enclosure system which limits lateral movement and its ability to transmit power to the ski. Hmm, maybe First Degree could be the best of both worlds.
Where these boots really try to stand out is their patented liner, which is heat moldable. There’s plenty of heat moldable ski boot liners on the market you say, and you are correct. What separates the First Degree liners from all of the others is their ability to be re-heated. And re-heated. And re-heated numerous times without losing their ability to be molded.
Most ski boots tend to pack out after a few hundred thousand vertical feet of skiing your favorite runs. Through First Degree’s design and subsequent testing, these liners can be skied over a 1 million vertical feet and then be re-heated with no negative impact on them.
So not only do the Firs Degree boots have a comfortable liner for resort skiing, they also have a walk mode for apre’ skiing and for backcountry hikes. There is a 5 degree adjustable forward lean, so you can dial in your preference depending on whether you are in the pipe, building backcountry booters or ripping some early morning corduroy.
With Icelantic’s broad network of shops, most of you should be able to go check them out and even demo a pair.
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