“PEOPLE WERE COMING FROM ALL OVER TO THESE WORKSHOPS. IT’S TIME WE TAKE THE SHOP TO THEM.”
Truly custom ride: Powderjet’s board (left) and, here, WhiteRoom’s handcrafted skis.
Photo courtesy Powderjet/Shem Roose; WhiteRoom/Greg Maino
—Jesse Loomis a spin on the first board he’d ever owned and found the old board could still perform in the deep snow. He was looking for a board that could maneuver through the tight woods of Vermont and float through deep snow: that early design had it. “I realized I could tie all those qualities into one board and it actually worked,” he says. “My mindset was to create the cleanest, simplest snowboard with as small an environmental footprint as I could manage,” he says. Powderjet boards are shaped with FSC-certified maple and poplar wood sourced from the United States. They use an environmentally friendly resin. The retro shape has a surfboard-like performance for powder days. “This isn’t about death-defying acts,” Loomis says. “We’re about having fun.” It’s an appeal that has attracted many. Team riders include Lukas Huffman, Mikey LeBlanc and Hisanori Katsuyama. Customers send Loomis pictures and videos of Powderjet boards in the Alps, Japan and the woods of New England. Powderjet landed on the cover of Transworld Snowboarding in 2013. Later that year, Loomis relocated Powderjet’s production from Vermont to York, Maine, to share space with a friend’s surfboard company. Powderjet customers can design their own boards on the website, selecting from 12 tail profiles and 13 tip profiles to create a custom ride. If you’re itching to get your hands on a jigsaw, you can travel to the York workshop for a weekend of instruction from Loomis, leaving at the end with a board you designed and shaped. “They’re basically giant snowboard nerd-out sessions,” he says of the weekend shaping classes. Loomis is presently designing a trailer system to take his workshop on the road as part of his “Speed of Sawdust Tour.” Starting in February, he’ll drive from Maine to Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole and more, leading board-shaping workshops and hopefully getting more snowboarders to try a Powderjet. “People were coming from all over the country to these workshops,” he says. “It’s time we take the shop to them.” Cost: $550-$600. www.powderjets.com WHITEROOM’S CUSTOM WORKS OF ART While the other companies mentioned here fabricate their products in Quebec or Maine,Vin Faraci can claim his WhiteRoom skis are 100-percent made in Vermont, from the wood cores to the topsheets. Faraci works full-time as a physical therapist at Copley Hospital in Morrisville,Vt., but spends his evenings pressing
skis for the discerning skier looking for a truly one-of-a-kind ride. (To see how Faraci makes his skis, see “In the White Room” at vtskiandride.com.) Pressing skis started as a hobby for Faraci. He started designing and building his own press in 2007 and gradually accumulated the tools and parts he needed. Like so many other hobbies that quickly grow out of control, he needed a place to put it and so moved his operation to his workshop behind his house in Hyde Park. And he called it WhiteRoom. Faraci admits his first pair of skis, pressed in early 2010, was less than satisfying. “Compared to what I build now, they were a disaster,” he says. “I think I put them in the press tip and tail reversed, the base wasn’t flat and the edges were wavy, but they weren’t bad.” In the five years since, Faraci’s technique has improved—a lot—and he recently began producing shapes pioneered by the now-defunct Middlebury ski company, Worth Skis. Faraci embellishes his skis with inlays of abalone, exotic woods and metals. Faraci’s skis look less like something you’d see in the lift line and more what you might see hanging in an art gallery. But Faraci is quick to assure that his skis are up to the task: “Most of my customers want a powder or a freeride ski,” he says. “I really start customizing based on what the customer wants.” Ordering a pair of WhiteRoom skis is more than picking a pair off the rack and choosing a length. Faraci requires input throughout the design process. Customers fill out a questionnaire with the skier’s height, weight and skiing style as well as the desired turning radius, preference of camber versus rocker, intended use and conditions. Faraci uses the questionnaire as the basis for creating a series of prototypes that the customer critiques.When the customer is satisfied, he presses the pair right there in his shop. The result: A pair of skis unlike anything else on the mountain. Last year, Faraci pressed and sold 12 pairs of skis, a satisfying number, he says, as the project is only his part-time business. In the future, he hopes to build 20 pairs a year. “I am WhiteRoom Skis and I do this because I enjoy it,” he says. “I like the hands-on work. I love skiing and the process of building a ski, it’s relaxing and fun to me.” Cost: $925 www.whiteroomcustomskis.com. ■
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