Travis Cook: Icelantic's Research & Design Expert (part 2)

In our ongoing series, we're taking you inside the Icelantic headquarters for some one-on-one with the creators of the award winning Icelantic AT Boards. This week we continue our interview with Icelantic's Production and Research & Design Manager, Travis Cook. Cassi: How are your materials different from other ski companies? Travis: Basically all of our materials are top of the line. We don't cut any corners, and what that means is we use vertically laminated poplar for our cores. We use top of the line fiberglass, the triaxle weave fiberglass, for a lot of our lay-up, which is just a really good, quality, well performing fiberglass. We use p-tex sidewalls, which are the strongest, most easily repairable sidewalls. We use a sandwich construction, which is more expensive than the cap construction a lot of ski companies use to save on cost. So you know really our materials are traditional materials. Those materials are all fairly standard in the ski industry. Poplar behaves in a way that makes it a very popular wood to use for ski construction. It's reasonably priced and it's lightweight, very resilient, lasts a long time. We definitely are researching what other ski companies are doing, snowboard companies are doing, and we're researching carbon fiber and various other plastics for future prototypes. But it's basically a pretty standard materials list. But they're just all really high quality materials Cassi: The 2007-2008 Scout will come in two flexes. How will the construction differ between the two? Travis: As far as the construction, it's just the core profile; the core profile is thinner. The flex pattern is geared towards a smaller skier being able to flex the ski. The reason for this is the Scout is a very stuff, really aggressive ski that big people can ride, and a lot of big people do ride. But, you know, kids are just enthralled with the shape and size of the Scout, and it was really unfortunate that a lot of these young kids couldn't really ski on the ski because it was just too stiff. So it was pretty obvious to us that we had to make a Scout soft. Which I think has a lot of potential. It is still a top of the line material junior freeride ski. Most junior skis are not made very well. They're a lot more inexpensive and other companies cut a lot of corners in construction, and that's where we're very unique is that our Scout SFT is the same ski, same materials, same construction just with a thinner core profile. Which really is something pretty unique for a youth ski. Cassi: Any plans for a women's ski? Travis: We feel that a lot of our line is very appealing to women. The cosmetics, meaning the top sheet graphic, the shape of the skis, the sizes, the lengths that we offer, we feel really do cater to women. Now whether we want to make a women's specific ski is something we're very seriously considering, but we don't want to remove the rest of our line from the women's market by introducing a women's specific ski. Cassi: What would make your women specific skis different? Travis: The general rule of thumb for a women's ski is just, you know, the shapes are very similar to men's skis, it's the weight and flex; they're softer and lighter. I don't know if we make a lighter softer version of our skis if that makes them women specific. I don't really think so. I think, when and if, we do a women's specific ski it's going to have to be designed from the ground up, and not just designed off an existing model that we just make softer. I think a lot female riders can handle our products really well. That they're a little bit lighter weight doesn't really matter when you're talking about performance. Cassi: Are you looking to get into the integrated binding systems? Travis: Yes we are. This is a project that Ben and I have had a lot of interest in since the beginning of Icelantic. And we're making some steps to definitely move in that direction. We feel that binding systems are a really good way to enhance the skis performance. It's a really good marketing tool, for selling skis and bindings in a package, which a lot of people are very keen on. That's definitely something to keep your eyes open for. Cassi: The Company initially had some problems with manufacturers, is that a problem anymore? Travis: No. Basically one of the hardest challenges for a smaller ski company is finding a reliable manufacturer. The easiest route is to go to China, where you have very little control over what they're making; you might see the factory once, or maybe not at all. So we really have a commitment to a localized manufacturing process as much as possible. We have used some smaller manufacturers based in the Denver area, two of which have been very less that satisfactory as far as just getting the product we ordered, getting it on time, having it well made. Just the usual kind of stumbling blocks of a small start up company. Ben had been relentlessly pursuing Never Summer snowboards, their factory's in Denver, for possibly taking on our production. And we finally wooed them last winter and they took us on. This is the first OEM that they've done, which is basically making product for another company besides Never Summer. And in the following year we've built a very strong positive relationship with Never Summer. They make very very high quality products. We haven't had any warrantee issues this year, not one, which is just really something to be proud of. Basically we're just really really lucky, because to find a reliable manufacturer is hard enough, but to find one a half an hour away that I can go swing by the factory, make sure everything's ok, see how it's going, do some very hands on quality control, that's just really an ideal situation for us. It allows us a lot of freedom with our Trial and Error Prototyping, which is just figuring out what we want in a ski and jumping off. Without a local manufacturer that wouldn't be possible. We couldn't be happier with our manufacturer right now. We're one of the lucky ones I guess. Cassi: Have you thought of doing custom skis for the public? Travis: Yeah, it has been something that we've been thinking about. You know, really the next step for us in manufacturing is finding somebody who can do some more prototyping. Never Summer's great, but we would like to, kind of, work with a smaller scale manufacturer to just continue our tradition of prototyping, and having that would be much more conducive to a custom ski. Our manufacturing relationship right now isn't really feasible to do fully custom skis. But that's definitely something that could be around the corner. When Never Summer first took us on it was strictly production. They didn't want to do any prototyping or sample work for us. So we worked with another smaller manufacturer for our prototyping, but as our relationship with Never Summer has grown, they've kind of taken that aspect of our production on, so they do our samples and prototypes and stuff like that. But ideally we would like to have the freedom that a smaller manufacturer could offer us as far as prototypes and customization and stuff like that as well. Cassi: Have you ever made your own skis, separate from Icelantic? Travis: No I haven't actually, I kind of use Icelantic as a chance to make my ideal ski. I made it this year. We have for the 07-08 the 168-centimeter Nomad. That's basically my dream ski. I've always wanted to make the Nomad in just under a 170. You know I think that is my ideal ski. I really have had the chance to really make the ski that I wanted to make through Icelantic. Peace and Snow, Icelantic ------------------ Copyright, Icelantic LLC, 2007

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