The other day Collin noted some of the winners at the ISPO SportsDesign Awards for EcoDesign. If you didn't follow the link through you might've missed Grown Skis, who picked up the ski equipment category. This young German company is combining traditional carpentry skills with modern ski design to craft a 'freeride' (backcounty/off piste) ski of some new fangled material they call wood.
80% of the ski comprises locally grown and sustainable harvested timbers; ash and fir, serving, the company believes, "as a natural sink for atmospheric carbon." The design allows them to avoid the plastic top sheet, layers of titanium and fibre glass and plastic ABS side walls commonly found in ski construction. Additionally they've passed up on the printed foils and varnishes used to deliver the usual garish graphics. Preferring to simply let the grain of the wood tell it's own story. Although they do allow a single burnt-on logo to 'brand' the skis. So to speak.Grown Skis, when they become available in the northern autumn (fall) of 2008, will make use of a single layer of carbon-fibre, a little epoxy resin and a smooth running PE base, plus a metal edge. They suggest their skis will, in comparison to the plastic behemoths of today, be "lighter, simpler in construction but boast more torsional rigidity by keeping an even flex."
To further reduce energy loads the skis are to be produced local to the material sourcing, to be formed with pneumatic presses that take more time but less heat The electricity for which will be obtained from renewable energy providers. Remaining energy use , eg, transport/materials/etc, will be "climate compensated", via we assume carbon offsets. "Incidental wood scraps heat the workshop and are used to build ski clips holding the skis together when stored or carried. At the end of their life cycle Grown Skis are recycled in our own carpentry workshop to build furniture, for example bed frames from."
(Oh, and they will also make resort skis too, but we'd rather the ones that don't require gas guzzling chairlifts and slope groomers to use.)
NB: Another winner, in the Apparel section of the ISPO SportsDesign Awards, was Swedish company, Klattermusen, for their organic cotton weatherproof outerwear, nudging out British finalist Finisterre, the eco-technical surfwear maker.