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At the end of the line, skis are assigned serial numbers, then stacked, wrapped and boxed before they’re shipped out to retail stores or before World Cup athletes handpick their skis for the coming season. Buyers from retail shops preview new equipment as early as December for the following season. They study last year’s numbers to see what sold and look ahead to try to predict each ski’s popularity before deciding which ones and how many to order.

Ski resorts are another customer, typically ordering large batches of gear for rental fleets. Manufacturers gauge production numbers from these initial orders, and factories often operate around the clock for several months to meet demand. Production ends by early summer, and new equipment arrives in ski shops as early as July or August. As consumers purchase the latest skis and boots each season, product managers and engineers are starting fresh, developing the next generation of equipment, which will reach shelves two years later.