Secret Ops

Cold Front

How did small-time canadian telemark-and-avalanche-gear manufacturer G3 team up with an industry design whiz, create a new line of skis, and keep it a secret until the products hit the shelves? "By covering the prototypes in white top sheets and faux graphics from other companies," says Paul Parker, the designer in question, whose brag sheet includes the first plastic tele boot (Scarpa Terminator), Garmont's new Adrenalin freeride boot, and author credit on the telemark bible, Free-Heel Skiing. "I always have a garage full of white skis."

During the two-year development period, Parker and G3 swore their 35 company operatives to secrecy. "Our internal code name was Project R," says G3's founder, Oliver Steffen. "The R has absolutely no relevance. Project X just seemed too obvious." The results of their clandestine efforts-manufactured in Tunisia and available in most North American backcountry shops-are the Baron, a lightweight touring ski; the women's specific Siren; the Reverend, a fat powder rig; and, most notably, the Ticket, whose outside edge has a slightly tighter radius than the inside one. "Think of a car going around a curve," Parker explains. "The inside wheels are going to make a tighter turn than the outside wheels." The Ticket isn't the first ski with an asymmetrical sidecut. Colorado-based ScottyBob makes very turny, tele-specific skis with offset sidecuts. But, according to G3's production manager Jamie Kent (one of the few to have skied it), the Ticket "really hooks up; it's snappy from edge to edge."

Right. But if they're so innovative, why didn't G3 carpet-bomb the ski world with advertising and marketing campaigns so that everyday people knew it was coming? "We wanted to do our homework and get it right," says Steffen. "Consumers have told us that they appreciate not spending their money to test our new ideas."