Betony Garner, British skier based in Chamonix.
Loves: Fun ski adventures with friends, powder, touring and skiing with the girls!
Betony has been based in Chamonix since January 2013 and lives and breathes skiing. When she is not working she loves heading out into the hills for adventure. She is passionate about the mountains and sharing that passion with others. She loves nothing more than a full day adventure - ideally off piste or a big ski tour which gets the heart rate up. Away from skiing Betony loves trail running, cycling, mountain biking, chatting and food! Especially a mountain coffee with a pain au chocolate...
Skis on: Dynastar Cham Woman 97 or 107
The journey…of my skis
I love skiing. I love that sensation of speeding down a perfectly groomed piste hearing the edges cutting into the snow or riding powder and the feeling of the skis gently gliding through the snow. But do we ever think about how two planks of wood (well kind of) let us experience these sensations? I know until quite recently I took the engineering that goes into a ski for granted, but after visiting the Dynastar factory in the Chamonix Valley, I got a real insight into how much work and precision goes into making a set of skis.
As I walked into Dynastar HQ, where the entrance is scattered with skis from the last 50 years, I spotted the skis I have had my eye on – the Cham Woman 97 freeride ski. The perfect ski for the powdery winter we are all hoping for. But how is this beautiful looking ski actually made?
With white coats and safety glasses we entered the factory and I got to witness the journey of ‘my skis’. Over one year, the Dynastar factory produces around 300,000 skis per year and employs 118 people over the summer months. It is huge, bustling and quite mind blowing with hundreds and hundreds of skis everywhere you look, all in different stages of their journeys.
So where do you start? Well seemingly with big rolls of polythylene. The first stage is to cut out the shape of the ski from the polythene (which will be the base of the ski), the same is also done in wood for traditional skis (normally a wood mix using poplar, ash and cedar) or a steel sheet for foam injected skis. It is almost impossible to get one length of wood that is good enough, so two pieces of wood are joined together to make the ski. Quite mind blowing to think this humble basis of a ski allows us to have so much fun.
Whilst this is going on the top sheet is being prepared. Again cut into the correct shape, the top sheet then gets sprayed with ink as many times as is needed to paint on the graphics. Watching ‘my ski’ it was sprayed at least three times with different shades of blue. Then once all the elements of the ski are ready, a big compressor is used to essentially squash down all the pieces and glue them together. And this is also where the injected skis get, well, injected!
From bits and pieces to a fully formed ski the final part the journey is the ‘finishing line’ - my skis get tidied up, waxed, vacuum packed and put on a trolley. And this is all done by machines, but under the watchful eyes of the operatives, many of them who work on the ski hills in the winter. It was really apparent how much passion there was in the Dynastar factory, with a big emphasis on quality control and getting each pair of skis spot on.
The biggest thing I took away from watching the journey of my ski was how much work is involved in making a ski and how many parts there is to the process. I often hear people asking why skis are so expensive. Well after seeing them made I would suggest they really are not expensive, in fact they great value.
And just remember how happy they make you feel when you are ripping it up on the slopes – or in the powder. Now we just need some snow…