Ski Picking: From the Factory Floor to Your Feet

Ski Picking: From the Factory Floor to Your Feet

Boulder Nordic & Cycle Sport Staff


We often extol the virtues of hand-selected skis, such as high absolute-quality and condition-specific characteristics. The benefits of skis picked directly from the manufacturer are undeniable, and it's a process we've been championing for almost two decades. In fact, our success has inspired several of our competitors to adopt a similar approach. But what does a ski picking trip truly entail? 

Step one is getting there, typically in early June. The big ski factories tend to be in little towns. Luckily, we've been fortunate to have expierence racing and working as techs across Europe so it's fairly easy to fly into Munich, rent a car, and go ripping down the Autobahn towards our first stop. 

The next step is the crucial task of navigating the ski factory and devising a game plan. The ski rooms can be overwhelming: a vast sea of skis, all seemingly identical, stretching as far as the eye can see. The challenge of locating the exact pairs we need from our order sheets can be daunting, even for seasoned ski pickers. However, our deep knowledge, unwavering attention to detail, and, most importantly, extensive experience, ensure that we get exactly what we're looking for.

It's not possible to travel with much ski testing equipment nor is it practical to put every ski in a warehouse on a flex testing bench. Picking skis is a job best done by an expierenced pair of hands. Using data printed on the skis, usually by an automated process, we're able to narrow down a group to select from. Each pair is squeezed by hand and evaluated both by sight and touch. First we check to see if the ski has the absolute-quality characteristics that we look for in general. Next, if it's a good pair, we check to see what condition-specific characteristics the ski has. If it matches our requimrents, we label it with our customer's name and set it aside. That label will stay on the ski all the way across the Atlantic until it arrives at BNS in Boulder, CO. If we find a great pair of skis that don't already have a buyer, we'll set those aside, too, for our general inventory.

This process goes on for several days at each manufacturer. It's exausting work with long hours standing on concrete floors. Typically we'll touch three to seven pairs of skis for each one we select—sometimes more. But, it pays to be picky, and we're proud of the incredible skis that we're able to provide our customers. This meticulousness ensures that every ski we select meets our high standards, giving our customers the assurance that they are getting the best. 

After working for a week or more, travelling between central Europe and Norway, our staff heads home. All of the skis for our customers who have pre-ordered are labled and await a long boat ride to the US. In late summer, the skis arrive in Boulder and it's time for the final steps.

Most of the skis we select either have Europe-specific grinds or no grinds at all. The newly arrived skis all have the customer names from our June trip and are sent directly to our grinding room. This typically makes for some very, very large grind batches that take days and days of work to complete. Each pair is ground with a structure to suit the specific characteristics requested by the customer. After two rounds of hot box wax to saturate the bases, it's FINALLY delivery time.

From start to finish, getting a pair of hand-selected skis is a five to six month process. It's involved and laborious, but we think it's worth it. This meticulous process ensures that each pair of skis meets our high standards of quality and performance. There's just nothing like having a truly great pair of skis, and we believe our process is the key.