Four of the best skis and snowboards

From fully bespoke to high-tech models

Lonely Mountain Skis Sneachda skis, from £900
Lonely Mountain Skis Sneachda skis, from £900 | Image: Alun Callander

Bespoke Scottish-made hardwood skis

From a workshop in Perthshire, Lonely Mountain Skis crafts handmade skis using a mix of traditional and modern materials and methods. Clients can order bespoke designs (from £1,400) or take inspiration from and adapt several existing ones: the all-mountain Sneachda (from £900), suited to Europe; the lightweight-yet-stable expedition Crua (from £900), which plays well in Scandinavia and the Alps; and the Ord (from £1,100), a powder and freestyle ski with a light balsa and flax core that’s ideal for use in North America and Japan. Each hand-finished pair – made from an eight-layer laminate of natural and synthetic fibres with a beech, poplar or maple core – takes between three and five weeks to complete. lonelymountain.ski. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

Zai Spada skis, about £1,500
Zai Spada skis, about £1,500
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Racing technology for sportspeople and recreational skiers alike

When Zai was established in 2003, its aim was to take ski manufacture “off-piste”, away from the computer-designed, machine-made, mass-produced norm and into the realms of handcrafted luxury, where there’s a place for avant-garde thinking and unusual materials. Which is why the Zai Spada ski features a core created from a thin length of granite and an upper surface clad in cellulose acetate – better known as the substance used to make spectacle frames. This, and other models, can have a “pre-stressed” rocker profile as an optional extra and are said to lose just five per cent of their tension after 100 days of use – compared with a figure of 25 per cent after 30 days for mass-produced makes. When people ski on a pair of Zais, the quality really does shine through. And they don’t just get the skis (from SFr1,950, about £1,500), but also custom Salomon bindings, a pair of Komperdell carbon poles, a two-year warranty and a year’s insurance against theft. +4181-936 4455; zai.ch. SIMON DE BURTON

Igneous skis and snowboards, from $1,199
Igneous skis and snowboards, from $1,199 | Image: Jack Brauer (MountainPhotography.com)
Wagner custom skis, from about $1,750
Wagner custom skis, from about $1,750

16 layers of hardwood for a gnarly ride

From his studio in West Jackson, Mike Parris creates skis and snowboards (from $1,199) to commission for an international clientele. After the shape has been designed, the length, width, side-cut, taper and camber profile are all taken into consideration to enhance individual performance. The process of building a custom board generally takes two to four weeks, as each one is comprised of at least 16 layers of hardwood – typically white ash, Douglas fir and maple – that must be built up with fibreglass for torsional rigidity, then pressed and cut and shaped by hand. Bookmatched hardwood top sheets are added for greater sensitivity, though carbon varieties can be selected to absorb vibration and ensure a smoother ride. Custom inlays, from scenic peaks to a rider’s monogram, are an option, as are intricate, handpainted graphics for a final flourish. +1307-734 8788; igneousskis.comCHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

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European tradition meets US tech  

Bespoke Wagner custom skis (from about $1,750) use Skier DNA software. Wagner’s team gathers information about each client’s goals, body type, strength and agility, as well as riding style and preferred range of terrain and snow conditions. At the heart of each ski is a hardwood core – often North American maple, ash or aspen for lighter models – with bases of durable P-tex (a polyethylene that enhances efficient glide) from Switzerland. Skis can be reinforced with Kevlar to protect against rocks and debris, and edges are crafted from high-strength carbon steel. Top sheets are sourced from Austria and clients can choose between a variety of finishes, from solid colours to handcrafted wood veneers to patterns. The design process takes approximately three weeks from start to delivery. After a 30-day trial period, if a customer isn’t happy with the skis, they may be returned and completely rebuilt, or the money refunded. +1970-728 0107; wagnerskis.comCHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

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