(Jackson, Wyo.) - Many skiers are particular about their skis, especially in Jackson, but one man has taken this to the next level... Kelvin Wu grew up in Upstate New York and started skiing when he was young. Following college, he moved to Seattle and began working for the University of Washington as an engineer. As an avid skier, one day Wu and a couple of friends started making skis in his garage. "I just started making skis to see if it could be done," said Wu. "There is a lot of mystery behind making skies and ski companies don't want to tell you anything." "The skis we made worked pretty well, so we started playing around with different shapes and designs," he added. Since he was able to do it, he wanted to share tips with other people interested in making their own skis. So he started skibuilders.com. The website, a hobby at the time, included articles on how people could make skis in their garage, including how to build a press, how to build templates, etc. "That got a lot of interest, which is great that a lot of people started making their skis, so we started selling some of the materials as well. The materials are kind of hard to come by in small quantities. There are only a couple manufacturers and they don't really want to talk to you unless you are a big company," said Wu. After nearly 11 years in Seattle, Wu and his wife were ready for a change. "We are not really city people, so we wanted to look for a smaller town," said Wu. "We had been to Jackson before and really liked the area." That is how Maiden Skis
were born. Today, Wu
develops custom skis for people from all over the world in a workshop south
"I make full custom skis," said Wu. "You can design the shape, flex, the
size and materials depending on what you are looking for."
Wu also customizes the skis to the person's height, weight and skiing
style. And then there are endless possibilities for graphics. A person can
design their own graphics, have a friend do the design, use a photo or use
one of Wu's local designers.
"Usually the longest part is people working on their graphics. People love
graphics on skis," he said. "Once the design and the graphics are done, it
takes me about 4-5 days to finish the skis."
Maiden Skis has also found a niche in developing custom sit skis for
"Sit skiers end up breaking skis left and right," said Wu. "They will break
4-5 skis a season because they usually take an off the shelf ski and
convert it to a sit ski, but they are not really designed for all that
Wu designs sit skis with thicker cores and bigger sidecuts to suit the
adaptive skiers better.
"I have been working with some of the guys that come every year for the
Steep and Deep Adaptive Camp, and we have come up with a pretty good design
for their sit skis. They haven't broken one of mine yet," he said.
Last year, Maiden Skis made 40 - 45 pairs of custom skis, and they want to
keep that number low to ensure everything is custom and personalized.
*Feature Photo: Kelvin Wu. Pitchengine Communities*