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Sea to Sky Made

Start-ups and struggles in the Sea to Sky snowsports industry

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The cutting done, we turn to the ski press. The first time Jeremy turns it on, we blow the electrical circuit. We turn off the culprit — the space heater — and get back to business. Once started, the pneumatic compressor chugs away, inflating airbags that press against the top and bottom of the freshly layered-up ski.

"Most small manufacturers make their own ski press," says Jeremy, pointing out the finer qualities of his numerically controlled system. The ski press is one of the last stages in the production process; it squishes the sandwich-layer ski together and squeezes out the extra epoxy. At about 2.5 metres long and weighing some 816 kilograms, it's also quite the piece of engineering. You'd think that Jeremy has formal training, but besides work in residential and commercial carpentry — "the odd summer job to finance the ski season" — the 28 year-old, London, Ontario native is entirely self-taught. "I've always been one of those kids that goes off and makes things on his own," says Jeremy. "I take things apart and put them back together again." Jeremy knows every inch of his production process, modelling it exactly on industry specifications.

"That's what everything is here," says Jeremy, gesturing to his nicely clean machines. "It's a scaled-down version of a genuine ski manufacturing facility. The way I'm profiling my own cores, the way I'm using CNC to cut-out all the templates for the shapes and what-not is the same way that larger manufacturers do it."

Jeremy's Sluff skis are tailored to the advanced to expert rider, including women's specific models. His goal, he says, is to "make skis that are essentially bomb-proof." His designs are tailored for riders "throwing down a hundred days a year in powder and steep terrain," which drives Jeremy to high quality methods and materials, including carbon strips and nylon topsheets. In crafting the ski's shape, Jeremy uses a rockered tip and a turned-up tail, with the width varying between 110mm and 120mm underfoot and with lengths between 168 and 194cm. With 25 pairs pressed so far, Jeremy is now preparing for a semi-public launch of Sluff skis, with limited prototypes now available.

Riding the Tyfoon with Johnny Chilton

The first ski Johnny Foon made, the flex was so stiff that he didn't even want to craft it a sibling. But after some friendly coercion, he did, and after testing the ultra-stiff pair he began to question everything he knew about the relationship between flex and rocker. "You can have a stiffer ski," says Foon, "once you have rocker."