Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gear

Ski Logik: Handmade in Hainan

One skier's surprising day on a demo pair of Ski Logiks leads to a transcontinental phone call with the company's founder to learn about ski building, moving to China, and the crazy dream that made it happen.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.


 As band saws whine in the telephone’s background, Ski Logik's founder David “Mazz” Mazzarella lets slip only a tiny hint of nostalgia, “it's…

 

As band saws whine in the telephone’s background, Ski Logik’s founder David “Mazz” Mazzarella lets slip only a tiny hint of nostalgia, “it’s bittersweet, I used to ski a lot more. I love to ski. I should have started a golf club company.” True, not much snow falls on his new tropical home in the South China Sea. But it’s a small price to pursue the one thing he loves more than skiing, building skis.

A few weeks prior to my conversation with Mazz, I’d spent a day buttering up Breckenridge’s Horseshoe Bowl in 22 inches of fresh on a demo set of Ski Logik Bombsquads. The experience left me pondering. I needed explanation on how the beautiful wood ski smeared powder one minute then crushed bumps or railed groomers the next. I couldn’t fathom why the featherweight boards felt stable and reassuring underfoot. My curiosity spiked when the skis stood up to every type of terrain yet were such a drastic departure from the epoxied, ABS, and metal laminate weapons to which I’d grown accustomed. So I called him and asked.

“I want to push the limits of ski making,” Mazz says. “I want to make them  without compromise to materials, time, and craftsmanship. Take the art …

“I want to push the limits of ski making,” Mazz says. “I want to make them without compromise to materials, time, and craftsmanship. Take the art of ski building to the highest level possible.”

To pursue his art, he took a gamble few small ski manufacturers are willing to take. After a serious push for capital, he built his own factory on Hainan Island, China, then moved his wife and two young kids across the Pacific to follow a self-proclaimed “crazy dream of a ski maker.” “Everyone thought I was nuts. I moved here on a quest to make the best ski possible,” he says. “Making our skis is labor ridiculous and I would not be able to do what I am doing in America. I had a vision and I couldn’t do it anywhere else.”

The move didn’t come easy. “We reached a phase where it didn’t look like it was possible,” Mazz says. “We had staffing issues, supply issues, things you take for granted in the US. The government bureaucracy was insane. We had to put a team of people together just trying to get legal certifications. But once you jump through all the hoops it becomes a free and clear market and everyone becomes a very tight family. It goes from hell to heaven.”

Overseas production hasn’t come without backlash though Mazz believes in his process. He builds his skis using materials like carbon fiber and black…

Overseas production hasn’t come without backlash though Mazz believes in his process. He builds his skis using materials like carbon fiber and black locust, a hardwood that ten years of ski building experience has taught him performs better than hard maple. “It’s an unbelievable wood,” he says. “It’s durable, and when used as a sidewall, it holds an incredibly solid edge. But it dulls drill bits and take longer to machine, which makes it expensive and unpopular with larger companies.” The skis are assembled almost entirely by hand, right down to the striking wood veneer graphics designed by Mariella, Mazz’s wife and Ski Logik’s in house designer.

At full capacity, the 35 workers at the Ski Logik factory can produce 10 pairs of skis a day. The decidedly anti-mass production model gives Ski Logik the flexibility of a garage workshop while maintaining competitive prices. Standard models retail around $750. For a reasonable premium, the company will build a production model ski with personalized flex and artwork. A fully custom ski costs $1300. “We do such labor-intensive construction, it doesn’t take much extra to build things custom,” Mazz says.

Near the end of the interview I get the impression Mazz loves building skis even more than I like skiing. The struggles of a small ski manufacturer…

Near the end of the interview I get the impression Mazz loves building skis even more than I like skiing. The struggles of a small ski manufacturer were and continue to be worth the effort. After officially launching in January of 2010, Ski Logik won ski test awards from Freeskier Magazine and Realskiers.com, and the company continues to build an excited following.

Word of the collective stoke about Ski Logik has trickled across the Pacific to Mazz, and it only has him more fired up to build skis. “I rely a lot on input from skiers. Ski Logik is not just me, it’s a community,” he says, indicative of his philosophy and passion. “Now, looking back, I’m really proud of the product, when really it was crazy. I just love being able to make great skis, then make great skis better.” –Kevin Luby

Want to demo or buy your own pair of Ski Logiks? Check out their website for more information.

Want to demo or buy your own pair of Ski Logiks? Check out their website for more information.