Locally-made skis, snow terrain parks, backcountry awareness, winter events.
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BUILT FOR BALDY
Locals inspired to make their own skis
Since it first opened for skiing back in 1939, Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain has been the inspiration for athletes, moviemakers and craftsmen nationwide. Whether it was providing the perfect backdrop for a film, or acting as the training ground for celebrated skiers, “the mountain” has been cited as being the motivation, even the muse, for many creations.
This winter, Baldy’s impact on innovation will surface again with the release of a new line of skis. The 5B Ski Factory began three years ago as a side project of local skiers, Brandon Doan and A.B. Wescott. After joining up with ski racer Caleb Baukol, and getting help from ex-K2 contractor Bob Boice and designer Jack Weekes, the team set out building and testing ski after ski in an attempt to create the best all-mountain ski for Baldy.
After a few years of ripping apart skis, testing and tweaking various cores, top sheets and edges, the Factory, as it’s simply called, settled on a tip-to-tail wood core, an early rise rocker and a carbon fiber cage for the Bootlegger, their first all-mountain ski. The Bootlegger and a powder ski are for sale now, and the Factory has a mogul ski in the works.
Both Doan and Baukol had been involved in ski construction and tuning for about 10 years prior to starting the Factory and said Sun Valley is the best place for building skis.
“If you get a ski to work on this mountain, you have a ski that will work anywhere,” Baukol said. “This town is loaded with awesome skiers who know what an awesome ski feels like. You can’t just slap something together and sell it as a good ski.”
Baukol doesn’t seem to be the only person with this mindset. The Valley has a history of ski bums building skis in their basements, testing them on the mountain and later making it big in the industry.
In 1974, Bobbie Burns emerged as the trailblazer for Ketchum-built skis with his classic planks,“The Ski,” which became a common name in the freestyle mogul world throughout the decade. A year later, ski bum Mike Brunetto began Research Dynamics in his Ketchum garage, which would eventually sell close to a quarter million skis per year.
Brunetto later left the growing business in the early ’90s for another small, local ski-making endeavor that would become Wolf Skis. Wolf Skis are still known for their Makwai and Cold Smoke models, which were inspired by slopes on Baldy.
As for now, the 5B Ski Factory produces their skis in batches of 25, with a goal of producing 300 pairs a year, including a special 75th anniversary ski for Sun Valley. They hope to someday join the legacy of local ski boutiques and open up a ski shop in downtown Ketchum.
-Photograph Todd Kaplan
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