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Comments by Jason Verlinde, Make Magazine

When a friend working at Make magazine asked if I knew of any stories that would be a good fit for their publication, I immediately thought of the guys behind SkiBuilders.com. I haven’t built a set of skis myself, but I’ve been lurking on this site for a long while and admiring their work (and skiing accomplishments). Before I knew it, I had a writing assignment.

On January 5, 2006, I introduced myself to Kelvin and Kam K. Leang (aka Big Kam) and they offered to build me a pair of skis while I interviewed them for the piece. Needless to say, I was stoked. I was also curious about how the skis would perform, since I’m an alpine skier and not a telemarker. They assured me that their skis would work well for either use, and after seeing some footage of their skiing exploits on tele gear, I was pretty sure there was no way I could abuse skis more than these guys do on a typical day out.

Over the course of two days, I had a great time watching these guys build this pair of skis and hear them describe their various building experiments. We named this pair Hennys, after my pet greyhound Henny. I brought a hastily designed Henny logo and it was inserted in the topsheet. I think the original plan was for these to be 181s, but the tail came out of the press higher than the tip, so a few centimeters on the tail were trimmed off with a hacksaw and put back into shape by Kelvin. The finished skis are about 174cm and have dimensions of 125-102-115.

I went ahead and put sealer on the sidewalls to help waterproof them, and epoxied the ends of the edges at the tips and tails to prevent delams. I took the Hennys to Pro Ski service in Seattle to mount a pair of Fritschi Diamirs on them. We had to guess on the skis’ centerline, so they matched them up to a similar pair of mass-produced skis and took the centerline off them. I also had them do a base grind and tune up.

On the snow, these skis have been great. The bindings should have probably been mounted 1 or 2 cm forward, as I need to put a fair amount of pressure on the tips during turns or the tails will skid out on groomers. They are on the short side for me, which—combined with their light weight—makes these skis really agile and great on short and jump turns. Their dimensions obviously make them good in powder and crud, and I was surprised how great they held on ice, much better than several pairs of store bought fat skis that I’ve been on. One quirk I did observe was that on really variable hard pack, the “feel” of these skis is almost too much—the Hennys transmit a lot of energy and vibrations straight to your boots.

I’ve put about 10 days on the Hennys, all in resort or sidecountry situations. On the lifts, they get a lot of attention; lately it seems as though everyone who eyes them knows someone (or knows someone who knows someone) who is building a pair of skis.

The only downside to the Hennys is that I’m not sure how much longer they’ll last. The camber flattened out around day six or seven and now the tails even have a very slight reverse camber. I’m guessing this is a result of me being on the heavy side (around 180 pounds) and the skis being so short. Also, on the last ½ inch from the tail, the edges have begun to pull out a bit, and are pushing through the base material. Nothing to worry about too much but something to keep an eye on.

All told, I’ve had some great days of skiing on these. And now I have the bug to make even more skis. Thanks guys!


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