A few years ago Pete Wagner, a mechanical engineer with a ski-bum's ethos, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a background as a designer of custom golf clubs, stumbled upon a question for which there was no good answer: We wear custom-fitted ski boots, so why not skis, too? Thus began Wagner Custom, and while there are a dozen or so boutique ski/snowboard-makers in the U.S. now, Wagner is the only one that doesn't use pre-cast molds – every snowboard or pair of skis is built completely from scratch.
Based out of a small shop near the San Miguel River in Telluride, CO – which, incidentally, is powered entirely by the wind and sun – Wagner used his custom golf-club know-how to develop a complex algorithm of more 250,000 lines of code to analyze an individual's "skier DNA," much like computer programs that evaluate a golfer's individual swing pattern.
The process involves taking an extensive online questionnaire that goes through all of one's particulars (height, weight, age, types of terrain you like to ski, skill level, etc.). Then, Wagner uses its proprietary software to generate a prototype of your ideal ski, adjusting factors like the length and width, side-cut, flex, and materials for the ski's core and base. Amazing, right? Well, that's just the beginning.
Next, a Wagner design specialist calls you up to talk shop: about how you like ski, what type of shape the computer software recommends, what type of ski you prefer, the materials that would be most suitable, and so on. The specialist then creates an outline of the skis on the computer, which gets sent over to you for approval.
The next step is especially fun – picking out the ski's graphics and top sheet, which can be anything from a selection of wood veneers and simple solid colors, to personal photographs or designs. Once the skis are designed, construction begins and Wagner even sends photos of them during every step of their creation.
In our case, by the time the skis were finished (the entire process usually takes two weeks), it felt as though we already knew them. And sure enough, when we clicked into them for the first time, the skis felt as though they belonged to us, creating a synergistic experience that only something completely custom built for you alone can provide. In short, they were perfect. [From $1,700 per pair; wagnerskis.com]