If you’re serious about skiing, and not willing to compromise the features of your skis to conform to what the big ski companies think are ideal or a sweet spot in the market, it’s time to consider some custom boards. Custom ski outfits produce skis specifically for you, instead of a K2 or Rossignol who produce hundreds of thousands of skis for the general skier.
Parlor Skis, started by three Williams College alumni ski racers, was born out of their continuing passion for skiing and their desire to build skis that fit their own preferences. I caught up with co-founders Mark Wallace and Peter Endres at Taos Ski Valley last month. Parlor is still in its infancy, and as Mark explained “last year was a limited release to friends and family, and this year the goal was to sell 100 pair – which we’ve far exceeded.”
Much like the explosion of microbreweries, independent ski companies are popping up all over. Although perhaps the best-known custom ski makers, Wagner Custom and Folsom are in Colorado, it makes perfect sense that Boston be home to a premium independent ski builder given their proximity to the mountains of Maine, NH, and Vermont and New England’s taste for unique, homegrown products.
Based out of a new factory location in East Boston, in the shadow of Logan Airport, Parlor is a sort of hybrid custom ski manufacturer. Starting with four base models, you can customize length, width, camber, and top sheet graphics through an online skier profile form that results in a one-on-one custom fitting process. This means a proven model for whatever kind of skier you are that’s customized to you, at a more affordable price than a fully custom ski built from scratch. In fact, Parlor skis start at $950 – similar in price to many mass-produced brands.
In Taos I was able to check out the Sparrow, Heron, and finally the Cardinal while ripping a few laps with the co-founders on the new Kachina Peak chair and a couple of short hikes from the top of Chair 2. While these demos were not customized to my personal specs, I was impressed with their performance and enjoyed skiing the full lineup. The Cardinal was my personal standout – its versatility and maneuverability in the trees and on steeps was fun and confidence inspiring.
Check out the video below to learn more about the how Parlor handcrafts their skis. Or check out Parlor online at ParlorSkis.com.