Jason Verlinde, Make Magazine
When a friend working at Make magazine asked if I knew of any stories
that would be a good fit for their publication, I immediately thought of the
guys behind SkiBuilders.com.
I haven’t built a set of skis myself, but I’ve been lurking on this site for a
long while and admiring their work (and skiing accomplishments). Before I knew
it, I had a writing assignment.
On January 5, 2006, I introduced
myself to Kelvin and Kam K. Leang (aka Big Kam) and they offered to build me a
pair of skis while I interviewed them for the piece. Needless to say, I was
stoked. I was also curious about how the skis would perform, since I’m an alpine
skier and not a telemarker. They assured me that their skis would work well for
either use, and after seeing some footage of their skiing exploits on tele gear,
I was pretty sure there was no way I could abuse skis more than these guys do on
a typical day out.
Over the course of two days, I had a great
time watching these guys build this pair of skis and hear them describe their
various building experiments. We named this pair Hennys, after my pet greyhound
Henny. I brought a hastily designed Henny logo and it was inserted in the
topsheet. I think the original plan was for these to be 181s, but the tail came
out of the press higher than the tip, so a few centimeters on the tail were
trimmed off with a hacksaw and put back into shape by Kelvin. The finished skis
are about 174cm and have dimensions of 125-102-115.
I went ahead
and put sealer on the sidewalls to help waterproof them, and epoxied the
of the edges at the tips and tails to prevent delams. I took the Hennys to Pro
Ski service in Seattle to mount a pair of Fritschi Diamirs on them. We had to
guess on the skis’ centerline, so they matched them up to a similar pair of
mass-produced skis and took the centerline off them. I also had them do a base
grind and tune up.
On the snow, these skis have been great. The
bindings should have probably been mounted 1 or 2 cm forward, as I need to put a
fair amount of pressure on the tips during turns or the tails will skid out on
groomers. They are on the short side for me, which—combined with their light
weight—makes these skis really agile and great on short and jump turns. Their
dimensions obviously make them good in powder and crud, and I was surprised how
great they held on ice, much better than several pairs of store bought fat skis
that I’ve been on.
One quirk I did observe was that on really variable hard pack, the “feel” of
these skis is almost too much—the Hennys transmit a lot of energy and vibrations
straight to your boots.
I’ve put about 10 days on the Hennys, all
in resort or sidecountry situations. On the lifts, they get a lot of attention;
lately it seems as though everyone who eyes them knows someone (or knows someone
who knows someone) who is building a pair of skis.
downside to the Hennys is that I’m not sure how much longer they’ll last. The
camber flattened out around day six or seven and now the tails even have a very
slight reverse camber. I’m guessing this is a result of me being on the heavy
side (around 180 pounds) and the skis being so short. Also, on the last ½ inch
from the tail, the edges have begun to pull out a bit, and are pushing through
the base material. Nothing to worry about too much but something to keep an eye
told, I’ve had some great days of skiing on these. And now I have the bug to
make even more skis. Thanks guys!