Why are skis so expensive?

Ask Dr. Flake
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Good question, given that skis, which can top $1,200, have no motor and don't help a hoot with erectile dysfunction. If you escaped shop class with a C-minus and your thumbs, you can build a workable pair of skis in your garage, though it'd be cheaper if you fired yourself and moved production to China. There's the rub: Well-made skis are expensive because they require a seam-less marriage of materials (wood, metal, fiberglass) and design characteristics (flex, geometry) that few engineers know well. Each ski length (175, 180, etc.) also demands its own mold (about $80,000). Then there's the cost of training salespeople, advertising, sponsoring athletes, covering shipping costs, and offering spot-on distribution during a blink-and-you'll-miss-it four-month buying season. According to one analysis, 12 to 15 percent of revenues from skis goes to selling the things. Bottom line: Nobody's getting rich in the ski trade. So, unless you're the guy who bought Flake's Olin Mark IVs for 150 bucks, you're not being ripped off.

September 2005