Upcycling Skis: Making the Shot Ski
Every year, thousands of skis and snowboards are scrapped and retired, eventually ending up in the landfill. Materials used to manufacture skis are made up of various combinations that are sandwiched and bonded together, which makes breaking them down for reuse a challenge. Often the only option is to shred them and downcycle the materials, unless you get creative.
As skiers and snowboarders ourselves, we wanted to see what we could do with some of the waste and excess, so we partnered with Deviation Ski & Snowboard Works to intercept excess skis in order to create an upcycled shot ski using skis sourced from 4Front and Deviation that will be sold in REI flagship stores and on our website.
Wanting to get closer to the shot ski crafting, Jessica, our resident Customer Experience nerd spent an afternoon with the team at Deviation and reported back to us with the scoop.
Deviation is a small, three man craft ski workshop outside of Portland, OR. All products are created from locally sourced lumber, feature customizable art from local artists and are tested on Mt. Hood. They were the perfect partner to collaborate with to make our first, technology advanced shot ski. I headed to the shop mid-morning on a Tuesday to watch Jeremy Pazzaneze, affectionately referred to as “Paz,” Deviation’s Production Manager, Snowboard Overlord and Managing Partner work on prepping skis for construction.
Their small shop is tidy, smelling of sawdust that greets you as you walk in the door; ski and snowboard molds line the walls. It feels like the kind of business that the kid who was really great in shop class would own, if he were also a really rad snowboarder. The sound of cool was deafening. They grind down metal edges of skis, sending metal sparks flying as 70’s funk and soul music is pumped throughout the shop.
Paz explained their creative process to me. How they tested the design, thought of how our customer would be using the product, selected the right stainless steel shot glasses, sourced old ski boot bindings for a unique, upcycled clip and how they structured production. These guys don’t usually cut their skis in half, drill holes in them or perfect them so they don’t touch the snow, so I wasn’t sure how they would create something outside of their wheelhouse. But being an innovative craftsmen means utilizing your full range of skills and tools to create something of value, and for Deviation, saving a ski had value! This shot ski gave Deviation and 4Front skis that were meant for a landfill, a second life.
I sat back, safety glasses and earmuffs on as Paz and the shop assistant David filed down sharp edges, measured each cut meticulously before dropping the saw blade down, and stacked the skis at the end of their work benches before moving it to the next stage of production.
We took some snowboarders and skiers to Mt. Hood yesterday to test the shot ski. Big thanks to our partner, Rogue Brewing, who supplied us spirits and ales for our product testing. As you can see from our "documentary" it was with great success.
When you want an upcycled, handcrafted shot ski, go to a ski maker.
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