When Zak Anderson hears the call of the snow, he heeds it. A former member of the Big Mountain ski racing team and now a coach, Anderson’s involvement with skiing got down to a more fundamental level last year with the launch of the Whitefish-based Montana Ski Company.
The skis are handmade with wooden cores and top sheets from sustainable Montana timber, Anderson, the company’s president, said. Customers can choose from an array of designs and four flagship shapes or they can go completely custom based on their needs.
Very little plastic goes into a pair, Anderson said, making them “green” and high quality at the same time. The cores are usually made of maple or poplar wood.
The Montana Ski Company began about a year ago when Anderson sat with Chad Wold at a Flathead Valley Ski Foundation fundraiser. Wold told Anderson he and the Bledsoe Capital Group were looking to get into the ski business.
“I stopped him right there and said, ‘I’m in. Whatever you’re doing, I’m in,’” Anderson said.
They came up with prototype designs and shapes and found manufacturer T.J. Sneva, of Sneva MFG in Spokane, to work with last year. Now, with their quality levels established and a better idea of the ski boutique market, Anderson said they plan to unveil their new website the first week of December.
So far, the company’s customers have varied in experience, but Anderson said they are connected through their passion for the sport.
“We get some really different people,” Anderson said. “We’ve got really experienced guys, they’ve been skiing their whole life, they’re on ski patrol – they know what they want.”
Other customers include out-of-staters looking for a quality set of custom skis, complete with top-sheet designs based on family vacation photos.
Anderson speaks with customers to gauge their level of skiing experience and learn about how they plan on using their skis so he can find an appropriate shape and fit.
Montana Ski Company has already secured significant capital from “fellow Montanans and skiers,” Anderson said, and will hopefully expand in Whitefish.
Anderson has been riding a pair of Montana Ski Company skis since Memorial Day, when he went to the Beartooth Pass to test them out. Any pair of skis could handle waist-high powder, he said, but the true test is how they perform in variable conditions.
The pair he used withstood each test, Anderson said, and has a relatively new design which he described as a more dimensional ski, refining the shapes of the tip and tail, and amount of camber underfoot to offer better “flow” in powder.
“I’m really stoked on this more progressive design,” Anderson said.
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