Gear

Slant Skis: Buy a Pair, Save the World

Tahoe-based skier Josh Bennett taught himself to build bamboo skis and is using sales to stop global warming.

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For the better part of a decade, Josh Bennett was a tech working on skis made by other people. Then, in 2007, he decided to make a pair for himself.…

For the better part of a decade, Josh Bennett was a tech working on skis made by other people. Then, in 2007, he decided to make a pair for himself.

“I’ve always been interested in how skis are made,” Bennett says. “I knew that if things went well [building my own] I wanted to start a ski company.”

Bennett crafted a pair of all-mountain twin tips to ride the vast and varied terrain in his Tahoe backyard. That pair led to Slant Skis, Bennett’s Truckee-based boutique ski company with an environmental conscience.

Bennett chose bamboo for the core of Slant skis because of its strength, lightness and sustainable properties. Bamboo grows faster than hardwood…

Bennett chose bamboo for the core of Slant skis because of its strength, lightness and sustainable properties. Bamboo grows faster than hardwood trees and produces oxygen as it grows.

“I was looking for something different, trying to think outside the box with ski cores,” Bennett says. “Some people are skeptical at first… but when they ride the skis, they’re believers.”

Bennett goes beyond using earth-friendly materials. For each pair of Slant skis sold, the company donates $10 to carbonfund.org. The donations help purchase carbon offsets, which give the buyer rights to emissions reductions. Other groups will buy these offsets and sell them or use them to pollute. The Carbon Fund retires the carbon offsets it buys, reducing the overall production of greenhouse gases and slowing global warming. “We want to have cold weather for years and years to come, and we want to do whatever we can to see that happen,” Bennett says.

Bennett’s first step in becoming a ski manufacturer was purchasing a CNC (computer navigated cutting) machine and teaching himself how to use it. “It…

Bennett’s first step in becoming a ski manufacturer was purchasing a CNC (computer navigated cutting) machine and teaching himself how to use it. “It was a big learning curve with the CNC,” Bennett says. “It took a while, but now I have everything I need to know mastered.”

The CNC cuts the bamboo core to the length, width, and sidecut dimensions designed by Bennett. Then he attaches sidewalls for protection against weather and elements and sandwiches the core in triaxial fiberglass layers.

A carbon fiber layer gives Slant models extra pop underfoot, and topsheets designed by local artists coupled with DuraSurf 4001 Sintered base material finish the ski off. Bennett also uses a custom-designed epoxy between the ski’s layers. “[Skis are] so simple, but so complex,” Bennett says. “There are no moving parts, but they are still a machine.”

A pair of skis will take Slant 12 to 14 hours to produce from start to finish. Bennett spent the summer preparing materials and building cores, meaning he can now lay out a pair of skis in about an hour.

The first sale for Slant Skis was to Bennett’s former boss, and Bennett says the business has grown as word has spread from his Tahoe buddies to…

The first sale for Slant Skis was to Bennett’s former boss, and Bennett says the business has grown as word has spread from his Tahoe buddies to their friends in Maine, Colorado, Utah, and Montana.

“I get honest reviews and real positive feedback,” Bennett says of selling the skis to people he knows. He also attributes success to the community in Tahoe. “[Tahoe has] really awesome skiers who will test my skis and give me specs right away. … It’s a Mecca for start-up ski companies and people with innovative ideas.”

Bennett says he would like to sell his skis locally—but for now he’s selling skis too fast online to supply Tahoe shops. Last season’s stock sold out, and Slant has expanded its men’s line to four models and its women’s line to three pairs for this winter, covering the spectrum from rockered big-mountain boards to park shredders.

As the business grows, Bennett is hiring more employees and taking time to dream. “I’m staying in touch with what I love,” he says.  “I’m getting to focus more on what I like; building prototypes and testing them and working on them with athletes,” This process accounts for his own quiver of 15 to 20 “random one-off” pairs. Skiers who can’t build their own might envy this collection, but there’s no need—Bennett promises he puts the best designs into production for Slant Skis.

http://www.slantskis.com

 

-Olivia Dwyer