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Sea to Sky Made

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

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Page 8 of 10

After hanging up the ski press for a year, Funk got back at it with his own signature brand — Funk Skis — once he was "confident and happy with what he could produce." To his credit, he offers a two-year warranty and "has become really anal" about quality. The new line is a creative exploration of modern shapes and styles; Funk's line shows a futuristic use of rocker and taper in both tip and tail.

Funk offers four shapes in his current line. The Smoking Gun is a big mountain charger at 103mm, while the Slash, at a fat 125mm underfoot, features a rockered tip and tail designed back in 2007 with Dave Treadway. The Transcender, at 112m underfoot, was created with Ian "Cheddar" Watson as a ski mountaineering tool; and the Aliens, as supa-wide 140mm symmetrical powder skis, are designed for centre-mounted shennanigans.

Depending on the model, each ski offers a choice of widths, rocker patterns, stiffness, tail shape, and flex, as well as the core itself, which can be either a combination of maple and aspen or dedicated aspen for lighter-weight touring. And — of course — colour. Along with PRIOR, this definitively makes Funk's skis some of the most customizable options in the Sea to Sky, as well as fairly priced at $1,000 a pair. And like the other makers in the corridor, he makes just enough to get by, at least for the season. Most of his buyers are local, Whistler to Pemberton riders; demos are available at Surefoot in the Village.

"This is just my winter business, for now," says Greg. "As long as I'm getting some business, I'm not losing money on it, and it's getting more efficient all the time. . . It's about 18 hours of labour time for a pair of skis. As long as I'm going to be handbuilding skis, it's not going to get much quicker than that."

Like Foon, Greg Funk envisions a future with a few more employees, growing to be "a little bit bigger, but staying true to the roots of a handbuilt, somewhat custom ski company." Funk also sees the future in terms of eco-technologies and newer, more environmentally friendly composites and resins. Greg is also more forthcoming about the competition (as well as the creative community) these small builders create for each other.

"It's tough, there's a lot of competition out there," says Greg Funk of the local ski builder scene. "When I started Capital, there were only a couple other small ski companies. Now they've sprouted up everywhere, and there's several here in Whistler. That's tough competition, but that's pretty exciting, as we're all pushing the creativity side of it and the technology side of it. I'm happy to see it go that way."

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