(You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

The One School philosophy is the joining of Old School and NEw School. Recognizing and committing to pushing the limits of riding through technique and technology and constantly striving to be better. But also recognizing that all that has come before is not irrelevant. Combining where we have been, and where we want to go, into a single institution of higher learning, the School of Skiing.

Sled skiing 90’s style

This shot is from 1997, on the shoulder of Mt. Meager. Head / Tyrolia had asked me to ride on these Super Cross’s for the season. Then give them feedback to help design a “fat” ski that would help dispel the notion that Heads were strictly race skis. At 72 mm under foot they were Heads fattest ski and skied like a great pair of race skis.

Rich Prohaska on the first descent of Mt. Meager’s North Face

The shot above is from the third trip into the area, when we finally had the zone figured out. It’s not under exposed, it was almost dark, but hot springs and cold beers were close by. In 2011 Hoji skied a line off the summit of Mt. Meager that is one of the most impressive shreds I’ve ever seen. Here’s a link. The North face line is from 6:25 until the end. Awesome! Hoji on Meager

Jim Orava under the North face of Mt. Meager on the first recon. 1996

 

Soon after we returned from that trip I got a call from Rick Lalonde (the president of Head Canada). “Do you think we should go any fatter?”

“Yes! Fatter! Bigger”

“What would we call it?. What’s bigger than a Supercross?”

“A Monstercross!”

And the Head Monster was born. The Monster grew into an entire line of freeride skis that Head produced for over a decade.

Head “Monster” #1

 

This is the first pair of Monsters, serial #0001. I’m glad I still have them, they were the first skis I designed. 85mm under foot. Very fat, and New School for the day, but balanced with Heads dedication to building skis with wood and hardcore Euro racing technology. This created a high performance fat ski that Rocked.

Bafoonery

 

The bindings are modified Emery’s. The stock heel piece on Emery’s was a lightweight Look knock off, with an unacceptable DIN of 10.  Although the threads were slightly different, a Look 99 race heel could be re-tapped to thread onto the turntable (Marker MRR heel pieces worked for this “mod” as well). Then a couple of pennies added to the spring recess on the toe piece  and you had a touring binding with a confidence inspiring DIN of 15.

Although these bindings actually worked really well, and I had 100% confidence shredding on them in some incredibly remote places, I’m glad I don’t have to ski on them any more. The plethora of touring bindings on the market today with waffle stomping Din settings of 16, warms my heart. The power of One School asserting it’s influence on the mainstream.

 

This is where a pair of Foon Skis begins. As a part of the magic of the forest and the living energy of the Coast Mountains.

 

In the past skis were made from solid wood. Hardwoods like Maple, Ash, Cherry, Hickory were used due to their high strength and shape-ability. Which wood was used depended on who was going to ride on them, where they would be ridden, and what was locally available.

Nowadays, which wood is used for a pair of skis usually depends on economy. Woods like Paulownia and Bamboo are chosen because they are plentiful and cheap. Because they grow really fast they are often marketed as a renewable and environmentally conscious choice.

But are they? Are the native forests in Indonesia, New Guinea and China being replaced by sterile, invasive forests of Paulownia? Are they being harvested and managed responsibly?

The yellow Cedar (Cupressus Nootkatensis) is technically not a cedar. It’s a Cypress, but it is known commonly around the globe as yellow cedar.

Cupressus Nootkatensis in it’s natural habitat

Like a hardwood the wood is very dense, hard and strong. But yellow Cedar is lighter and has more elasticity, giving it an even higher flexural strength. The tree only grows on the slopes of the Coast Mountains from southern Alaska to Oregon. The forests of British Columbia are harvested and managed under strict regulation. Logging companies and foresters must adhere to some of the most stringent forest practice codes on the planet and are held accountable for every tree they harvest. With proper management and supervision our forests are truly a renewable resource for generations to come.

After harvest Brackendale Custom Millworks mills the logs into two inch boards.

Jim Walker buckin up some skis

Each one of these boards is then split in two to make a pair of perfectly matched skis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boards are then air dried (kiln drying can damage the fibres and effect the quality of the wood) to ensure dimensional stability

 

 

Each pair of boards is then examined and chosen for a particular model or pair of Custom skis depending on the various qualities, weight, density, grain structure, etc. The cores are then milled to thickness and the sidewalls created.

A high tech CNC machine ensures the skis are the EXACT shape of their design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old school ideas and craftsmanship, balanced with new school technologies and materials combining to create a ride that produces the performance characteristics demanded in a modern riding tool. While looking back to the future for responsible resource management and a more sustainable local economy.

But can the magic of the forest be transmitted to a pair of skis, through the hands of craft and passion?

Stay tuned for The Philosophies of One School Part II, Science & Alchemy.