Ever wonder what goes into making your favorite pair of skis?
Travis Cook is the man to talk to. The Icelantic Production and
Research & Design Manager told me about their Trial and Error
Prototyping process, working with outside manufacturers and where
their research is leading the company.
Cassi: What all does your job entail?
Travis: Basically my responsibility is to get all the products
made, or oversee the construction of the products, the samples,
manage the product testing. Our design process, kind of, bases
around a term that I call Trial and Error Prototyping. And
basically what happens is we get a concept for a ski, know what
we want it to do, and based on those requirements we come to a
shape. It's kind of through intuition. We do have some definite
numbers that we go off of, but I have about 23 years, I guess, of
skiing experience. So between all of us we kind of can get a
pretty good sense of the shape of the ski we want to do the
Ben has spent a lot of time finding the lay-up, which is the
different layers of fiberglass, wood, rubber foil. All the
materials that go into making the ski and what order which
particular materials are placed in the lay-up. It's a pretty
big part of how the ski will perform. So we found a lay-up that
works really well for us.
So then what we do is take our lay-up, shape and fiberglass and
materials and we get prototypes made basically. And then we can
mess with the lay-up; mess with the core profile, which is how
thick the actual wooden core is in the ski. We basically start
prototyping with different configurations. We'll usually get
two or three different prototypes with different core thicknesses,
and we'll, kind of, try to dial in a good jumping off point, I
guess you could say, for the transition from a prototype to a
A sample is a ski that we've tested; we think it has a lot of
potential. And then we actually make a fair amount of those
samples that get displayed starting with Vegas and ISPO in
Germany, and then from there they go to all of our on-snow demos.
And basically, we get feed back throughout the season for those
samples, and we come to a conclusion of what we want for our
production. Then we have that produced en mass for our production
Like for example right now we're in production mode, so we have
all of our numbers that we need to get made for 07-08 season.
And I just need to fill those orders, so I'm working with the
factory to get all that taken care of, and then, you know,
starting in the fall we'll be working on the new samples for
our 08-09 line. And then throughout the season we do prototypes.
Cassi: Who tests the skis?
Travis: Largely it's Ben and myself and all our riders and reps,
and then we get a lot of feed back from various demos that we do.
Cassi: Do you have plans to do more specific designs for
Travis: You know right now Cory Zila is our premier rider.
We really want to deliver him a product that he really has been a
part of since the conception. He's skiing on the 173 Shamans
right now. We made him skis that have, kind of, a custom pattern
that he wants and are a little bit stiffer. We're always working
with our riders to try to develop the best products possible and
at this point in time Zila's the only one we're really working
to make a ski specifically for, but I'm sure that'll change in
the years to come as we sort of solidify our team and really
start, you know, finding people who are going to get a lot of
exposure in the sport and really kind of push our company in the
direction we want it to go.
Cassi: Will his ski be available to the public?
Travis: Yeah, eventually. You know I hope to have a workable
prototype/sample for Zila to compete on this upcoming season.
Depending on how the development of that ski comes, it will be
most likely be something offered to the general market, but not
until we've definitely had him competing on it for at least a
Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview of Travis Cook, Icelantic's
Production and Research and Design Manager.
Peace and snow!
Copyright, Icelantic LLC, 2007
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