Have you ever had to fix a pair of sunglasses, and needed to replace one of those really small screws?
Or, have you ever had to fix a deck using hundreds of decking screws?
If you use a precision screw driver on the sunglasses and a power drill for the deck, these DIY projects will go smoothly. However, imagine fixing the sunglasses with a power drill, or driving in deck screws with a precision screw driver. It may be doable, but it’s certainly not going to be fun.
Part of the appeal of skiing is that there is a TON of variety. In one glorious sport you can:
- shred powder,
- carve groomers,
- rip corn turns,
- chop crud,
- hammer bumps,
- slap around slush,
- plow through mank,
- set an edge in ice,
- hop turn on steeps, and much more.
Just like different DIY projects, these varying ski conditions require different techniques to get through each one gracefully. Furthermore, like using the right tool for your DIY project, these different ski conditions are much more enjoyable with the right skis on your feet.
There are countless combinations of skier types, ski styles and ski conditions. Instead of trying to cover all of them, I’d like to walk you through how I selected my last three Folsom Custom builds. Hopefully it will help you select the right ski (tool) for your skiing (job).
Before I get into the specific skis, it is important for you to have some context on me:
- I’m big (6’ 4”, 225 lbs),
- I ski 120+ days a season, which means lots of different conditions,
- I love to ski fast, typically opting for fewer, bigger turns over more, smaller turns,
- I get in the air often,
- I ski in-bounds frequently, but much of my skiing is done in the backcountry.
This said, the following are the last 3 skis that Folsom has built for me and why…
Ski #1: BTO
When I first talked to Mike McCabe about building a pair of BTOs, my goal was to have a ski made for high speeds in powder/chop/groomers that would also be a stable platform for jumping cliffs.
- I chose the BTO shape because it comes in a long length (198cm), which is good for my height. This allows me to lean into the front of the ski without fear of going “over-the-handlebars” on cliff landings.
- The BTO is nice and fat (146-117-132) which allows great float in deeper snow.
- These dimensions also create a 27m radius – a sidecut that I like for making big turns on firmer snow.
- Given that these skis are for high-speed stability, and given my weight, I went with a stiff construction – Poplar, Maple, & Bamboo core with 90% fiberglass, 10% carbon fiber composite.
- I asked Mike for significant camber underfoot, which gives me a lot of contact with the snow surface, again increasing stability at speed.
- In the tip and the tail I went with minimal rocker. This prevents the skis from submarining in deep snow, but it also requires that they be going fast in order to really get them on plane. (This translates to Folsom’s “Directional Rocker” profile).
Riding these skis is like driving a rally truck – they’re aggressive and designed for a beating at high speeds. They are incredibly fun, but if I get lazy, they make me pay. They don’t like turning at low speed, but they stomp cliffs and smash through powder, chop and firm snow…just the way I wanted them to.
Ski #2: Primary Plus
I do a lot of ski mountaineering that requires long approaches, climbing lots of vertical, technical skiing, and carrying a lot of gear. So, when designing a ski mountaineering ski, my goal was to have something light and nimble, yet stable…
- I chose the Primary Plus shape because it has a large side cut while still being relatively wide (which I personally prefer to a narrower platform).
- Compared to my other skis, this ski is relatively short (194cm) which allows me to get them in tighter spots than my other skis.
- Weight is one of the most important factors in this ski. With its Aspen & Bamboo core and 100% carbon composite, this ski lets me go longer and save energy on big days in the mountains.
- To maintain control and stability in technical terrain, this ski also utilizes Directional Rocker which allows it to cut through soft snow and corn, but maintain a significant amount of edge on the snow in firm conditions.
- There is really never a day that these skis will be used without skins, so the tail has been blunted to ensure that skin clips will never slip off.
These skis are ideal corn harvesters. They’re light enough that I can go all day on them. They aren’t made for skiing choppy or punchy conditions at speed, but they’re amazing for me in corn snow or in dicey, technical situations.
Ski #3: Rapture
I worked with Joel Ives when selecting my Raptures. We wanted to design a ski that was a lot like my BTOs, but with a little more “playfulness”… something that didn’t need to be skied at full throttle all the time. The goal of this ski was not to be doing butters necessarily, but a ski that is able to thrive in powder, easy to smear turns with, and still inspire confidence on drops…
- I chose the Rapture shape because it is fairly long (196cm) but also very wide (148-122-138). This gives me amazing float in soft snow and confidence that I won’t go “over-the-handlebars” on cliff landings.
- Compared to my BTOs, the camber underfoot is similar on my Rapture, but the Raptures have a bit more rocker in the tip and tail (what Folsom calls “Everyday Rocker”). The slightly increased rocker allows me to float in deeper snow without needing to go as fast and it gives me the option to smear turns more easily.
- Given that I’m big and I still want to have stability at speed I went with a stiff construction – Poplar, Maple, & Bamboo core with 90% fiberglass, 10% carbon fiber composite.
Riding these skis is, again, like driving a rally truck. But this time, the rally truck has a softer suspension with additional lift. They are decent, though not quite as good as the BTOs, at making high speed turns in firmer snow. But, they’re extraordinarily fun for skiing fast and slashing turns in deep snow. They’re more forgiving at lower speeds and are like a catcher’s mitt on cliff landings. Again, just the way I hoped they’d be.
There you have it – the thought and design process behind my last three pairs of Folsom Custom Skis. Like the precision screw driver for the sunglasses, each of these skis has been incredible for their respective “jobs”. If you’ve never had a ski that was purpose built for you, I highly recommend it. Feel free to reach out to me or anyone else on the Folsom Customs crew if you’ve got questions, and we’ll be happy to answer them.
Ski fast and take chances,
Joel has been a Folsom athlete for nearly 10 years. Based in Alta, Wyoming, he skis across the Teton Range and beyond. Off the snow, Joel enjoys mountain biking, floating the river, and spending time with his wife and three kids. You can keep up with Joel’s adventures via his Instagram here.