Everyone has heard the adage “all ski companies make great skis”. While this may be true, it fails to tell a big part of the story. Quality is one factor, but an equally important factor is understanding. Most of the investment we make in our business is in understanding. We work closely with designers and manufacturers to learn what they’re trying to do. We work closely with athletes to learn what they’re looking for from the skis. And we work closely with the skis, on snow and off, to learn their respective characteristics and strengths. Just like people, every ski wants to be judged on its strengths.
Our athlete partnerships are the proving grounds for the whole system of understanding. When we work with a high-level athlete and their ski sponsor to select and prepare a full fleet of skis, we’re testing our understanding of materials, design, construction, and preparation. We’re never going to knock it out of the park on every try, but we really want to see new skis finding their way onto the snow and into races.
In most cases this is an ongoing long-term process, built on relationships and understanding that solidify over time. But with a new brand, we have to start from nothing; and that’s been the situation with Salomon. We started working with Tad for the 2010-11 season, and we learned enough to jump in with both feet this year and carry the brand. But this is the first year that we handled all the new ski selection, and controlled the whole process from start to finish. We also added quite a few new skis – six pairs for skate and three for classic. Tad had been skiing on a mix of 192 and 187 skate skis, and wanted to move toward the 192 as a standard. Also, we focused on the cold end of things for the start of the season (maybe not a great idea in retrospect).
So, today I got the following in an email from Tad. As a note, the 666 pair is the pair that Tad won the Birkie on, and the pair that convinced me to work with Salomon.
You can sell all of of my old skate skis at your house. Except for the R4 pair. Or if you have good skis at your house that are warm skis. I don’t know what i have for warm skis. You can sell those too. My 666 pair is one of my worst skis now over here. Worst is not a great word but other skis are beating it out. Which is sick.