- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Why buy mass-produced skis that are almost what you are looking for when you can have a pair that is precisely what you want?

At Maiden Skis, you can have whatever type of boards you like. And you can help the expert crafter there create them.

“We like having people come by and see how their skis are made and let them work on them, too,” said Dennis Provost, ski tester for the shop on Deer Drive south of Jackson.

Provost partnered with ski maker Kelvin Wu almost two years ago when Wu arrived in Jackson after working for a ski-making company in Seattle.

Provost - a former ski bum who owns Canvasmith Co., a Jackson canvas products manufacturer - found out Wu was a ski maker and wanted to assist him.

“I saw him when he was unloading his truck, so I grabbed a forklift and helped him out,” Provost said. “Kelvin said, ‘I teach people how to make skis,’ and I said, ‘You are my new best friend.’”

As a tester for Wu, Provost takes new ski models and puts them through everything imaginable.

Provost has skied 1.2 million vertical feet on Wu’s skis in 100 days this season. That’s fewer days than in years past.

“I usually do 2 million vertical in a year,” Provost said.

Wu tailors skis to his clients’ skills, style of riding and preferred terrain. If customers hit the mountain and discover they don’t like the skis, he will build a new pair that suits them.

“Trying to make one ski that can do everything is tough,” Wu said. “A lot of commercial skis are one size fits all. These off-the-shelf skis often treat the middle-of-the-pack skier. That’s why I like to have the customer come in and give them the perfect ski for them.”

Wu asks customers to tell him exactly what they’re looking for in a pair of skis. He not only allows but actually encourages skiers to put a little work into their own skis.

But it’s often the look as much as the ride that interests them.

“What takes the longest is people deciding what graphics they want,” Wu said.

The shop has a special printer that can produce any kind of graphic a person can put on a computer.

Story Continues →