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Sea to Sky Made

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

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Page 6 of 10

Basically, a rider can spin around in circles on Gary Waynes in nearly all conditions. Sideways, switch, half-assed, whatever, the Waynes open up entirely new if not utterly strange possibilities for whipping downhill — kind of like one of those death-defying, plastic flying discs we put our young loved ones on, only to watch them take off like a torpedo at terrifying speeds. But the skis have more control than that.

Afterall, this is "a ski from the 2030s," says Sheldon, "designed as a pure powder ski, but performing wonderfully on slush, pond-skimming, and when there's nice corduroy, they really offer you a rally-car, hovercraft experience on good groomers."

And yes, they can do hockey-stops. "The way you ski them is definitely different," says Sheldon. "It's more about using the angle of your leg to choose which part of the edge touches the snow. The unique shape of the ski allows any part of the edge to be accessible at any given time." The end result is a whole other language of skiing, both physical and semiotic, developed from airplane technology; Sheldon explains to me terms such as dynamic pressuring, adjusting angle of attack, and spinning around in circles by pressuring forward-and-back "like a dimmer knob." A rider can throw a huge schmear turn, angling sideways while sustaining if not increasing speed, pressuring the uphill ski to affect the speed of the slide, or pressuring the downhill ski to bite in the edge and accentuate the carve. It's like a schmear on steroids. Shane McConkey would've been proud.

Although 3D modelling software played a part in the initial design, Sheldon plotted out the prototypes by hand on a chunk of foam, cutting out the shape with "scissors, a pen, some door skin, and some epoxy." Apparently, they skied just fine, even with a "chunky and wishy-washy" base grind. But these were the protos. The real deal was to come, but it came with a production problem: how does one construct a ski with such an exaggerated amount of rocker and a convex base?

The answer arrived from skateboarding construction — and from his best friend, Casey Keulen, who is finishing his doctorate in engineering at the University of Victoria, specializing in composites and laminates. "We threw everything we knew about ski-making out the window," grins Sheldon. "We ditched sidewalls, we ditched a vertically laminated core, and went with the skateboard-style technology, of using (horizontal) sheets of wood instead. . . This allows us to be very flexible with our shape and our thicknesses, (offering) a very customizable, modular production scheme."

The Waynes are made in Casey's basement in Victoria, which is "lit up like a lab." Now that the production system is refined, they're looking for a shared space in the Sea to Sky. Such an endeavour is not destined for the big time, but for the boutique.

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