Pete Wagner was an engineer in the golf club industry at the time when technology-driven swing analysis, robotic club testing and computer-generated fitting recommendations transformed golf from off-the-rack to a highly customized sport. So when he was disappointed with a well-reviewed top brand ski and found there was no custom equivalent, Wagner invented it. Fourteen years later, Wagner Custom Skis is the world’s premier bespoke brand, and has designed, built and shipped more than 15,000 pairs—no two of them the same.
Wagner takes great lengths to eliminate judgement calls and human error through data and technology. A precise questionnaire concretely measures “Skier DNA,” which reflects body type, ability level, skiing style, preferred terrain, conditions, goals, your current and past equipment and more. Then his sophisticated software spits out recommendations, and he or one of his designers goes over these with the client, suggesting material and construction options and explaining the effect of each.
Your ski design will take into account whether you ski groomers or go everywhere from trees to bumps, in powder or in crud, where you live, how much you carve and how fast you like to go.
The whole thing can be done online and by phone, then the staff in his Telluride showroom goes to work, and the result, less than three weeks later, is a truly bespoke ski in every sense, from side cut to camber to length, to tip and tail style, to core, base and top materials. In sharp contrast, most manufacturers in the fast growing “custom ski” industry are more accurately customized, offering several base models with predetermined dimensions, side cut and available lengths, which are then tweaked for each buyer. Instead, Wagner creates an entire one-of-a-kind ski out of whole cloth.
“Our skis don’t just fit you better, they fit you perfectly,” he says.
Most first-time customers choose a versatile all-mountain design, while repeat clients might assemble a quiver of two, three or four skis for a mix of powder days, firm snow, resort conditions and backcountry heli and cat-skiing trips. Many buyers feel an immediate sense of improvement, which translates to more fun and safer skiing.
As well as being designed to fit you, they are also physically better skis, more durable, better performing and made from the best state-of-the-art materials available. They are also eye candy that inspires envy among knowledgeable skiers. You choose from an array of hundreds of available graphics and colors, as well as the company’s signature line of real wood veneer tops with grain patterns.
With a starting price tag of $1,750 and an average cost of $2,100 (before bindings), comes an unconditional guarantee to rebuild or return your money. Last winter, they made well over a thousand sets and had to do that three times.