Reinforcing Your Dreams
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Alaska Downhill Ski maker duaneb @ 2012-09-26 09:57:56
Here in Anchorage Alaska we have a customer making Downhill Snow Ski’s. He has manufactured a couple sets now and has had good success with Pro-Glass Epoxy Resin systems. He is in the process of getting a Business License. He is planning on making many more sets in the future. Here is some pictures of the handmade Downhill Snow Ski.

Will Spears is now going to give the ECO CPM and ECO CPL epoxy resin systems a try. He will let us know how the next batch of ski’s comes out.

Congrats Will from Girdwood Alaska on a job well done.

Update 11/07/2012
Will has had great success with the ECO CPM and ECO CPL epoxy resin system. The resin system is out performing the system he was using in the past. As Will stream lines the manufacturing process the Downhill snow skis he makes may be competing with the large manufacturers.

Update 11/19/2012
Will Spears and Steven Shortridge have been featured by the Turnagain Times a local Newspaper here in Alaska. Here is a copy of the article.

Headline -
2 local men start companies making skis and snowboards

Article -
By Julie St. Louis
Turnagain Times Correspondent

Thanks to two start-up companies, skiers and snowboarders at Alyeska and in the Chugach backcountry will have the opportunity to glide down local mountains on Alaskan made and designed equipment.

This past summer, Portage resident Will Spears founded Chugach Snow Tools, while Big Lake resident, and owner of a second home in Girdwood, Stephen Shortridge began Chugach Flyer Snowboards.

Both men, independent of the other, set out to create skis or snowboards using materials made or sourced within the U.S.

Spears became frustrated with the lack of U.S. made skis and ones that could handle the varied snow conditions of the Chugach Mountain Range.

Shortridge wanted a U.S. made snowboard to be printed with his photographic images of the Chugach. Neither could find what they wanted, so they struck out on their own.

The concept of Chugach Snow Tools was conceived four years ago as Spears spent his days repairing skis for Alyeska Resort. Prior to Alaska, he spent a decade repairing skis at resorts on the East Coast, and in the heart of Colorado ski country.

“I’ve seen everything that could go wrong with skis,” said Spears.

And with that thought in mind, Spears considered the state of current ski manufacturing, and about how he could do it differently.

“A lot of the things manufacturers do to make skis look cool, or people think they will ski better with them, makes them a lot harder to work on,” said Spears. “Most of the time cool graphics, or ridges and bumps, don’t really help someone ski any better, they just add unnecessary weight to the skis.”

This past summer, Spears finally set aside time to focus on building Chugach Snow Tools.

“Everything is truly handcrafted,” said Jeannine Armour, Will’s girlfriend and chief promoter. “Even parts of the press, templates, and bench to craft the proper camber and thickness, he built.”

The press required additional pieces and modifications to work the way Spears needed. It turns out that fire hoses make great carriers of air and expand easily to create the intense pressure to force each layer of skis and boards together.

Luckily Spears’ boss at the resort, Steve Bartholomew, also volunteers for the Girdwood Fire Department. Rather than throw out old hoses, Bartholomew got the department to donate them to Spears for repurposing.

“Steve’s been so supportive,” said Spears.

Beyond recycling used fire hose, all materials that go into a Chugach Snow Tool are made in the U.S., many from within the state. The wood cores are Alaska poplar. Fiberlay, an Anchorage company, introduced Spears to eco-friendly epoxies made from tree sap rather than petroleum.

“Everything that goes into the skis is functional, there’s nothing frivolous,” said Spears. That’s also the reason he hasn’t decided on aesthetics yet. “The priority is to make a good product and worry about the looks later.”

It’s not to say he hasn’t thought about artwork. Spears plans to work with local artists to apply their designs on natural base materials that won’t add weight or make tuning or repairs difficult.

He will have several pairs of his custom skis for people to test by the time Alyeska’s lifts start up for the season. For sale will be cambered groomer skis, flat mid-fat skis, and early rise-rockered powder skis.

Fellow Alyeska ski-tuner Tony King will be helping Spears add a snowboard line for Chugach Snow Tools soon.

Chugach Flyer Snowboards’ priority of made in the U.S. with all U.S. parts is like that of Chugach Snow Tools, but the impetus for starting the company is much different. Shortridge said he started snowboarding late in life at age 54.

“I had been a bad skier and not very frequent one for over 40 years,” said Shortridge. “My son started snowboarding and my wife and I decided to give it a try, and it just clicked for me.”

In four years, Shortridge went from snowboarding on groomed trails to flying in a helicopter to make turns in the backcountry. “It grabbed a piece of my life and took it over,” he said. “Five years ago I bought a home in Girdwood, and last year I spent 78 days on the mountain.”

In addition to his newfound passion, Shortridge spent decades photographing Alaska and selling his prints – that is when he’s not working as a physician assistant at the Rainbow Medical Clinic in Big Lake. He founded the clinic in 1989.

Beyond combining his love of photography and snowboarding, Shortridge was upset that so many U.S. ski and snowboard manufacturers were abandoning their roots by sending production overseas.

He sites a major motivator as Burton’s 2010 lay-off of 43 employees when the company shut down its Vermont production. Higher-end manufacturing went to Austria, and that of lower valued items to China.



The final push occurred when Shortridge asked for cost estimates on boards using his custom graphics. The two U.S. makers he spoke to quoted a price tag of several thousand dollars in addition to the cost of the board.

“After that, I started doing research on what it takes to make them, and whether there were any American companies that would do it,” Shortridge said. That led to him forming his company this past July after he found a quality U.S. maker to produce his Alaska-themed and designed snowboards. And last week Shortridge delivered the first snowboard to a local buyer.

The manufacturer is in the Lower 48; however, Shortridge plans to start making some boards in-state within the year. He also plans to incorporate Alaska birch, and like Spears, all his design components are made in the U.S.

There are two base profiles with wavy edges to match for enhanced edge control. One profile offers camber with rocker tips and C5 edges in sizes 153 to 162. The second is a rocker board with C6 edges in sizes 147 to 165.

The first lot of Chugach Flyers is a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered snowboards. They retail for $575 and feature a panoramic photo of Pioneer Peak taken by Shortridge.

Shortridge said he plans to hold demo days this season at Alyeska and Hilltop ski areas.


Update 11/20/2012
New Web site http://www.chugachsnowtools.com/
this website is brand new and they are still working out the particulars...

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