Custom Skis, Made Cheap

Trying to find a great deal on great skis that fit your needs can be a challenge. Unless you find someone who will build you custom boards for less than a pro form deal. That’s what you get with 333 skis.

For a price that reflects the name of his company ($333), Michael Lish and a small crew will build you skis made to order. The company lets you call the shots on the graphics. Bonus: In addition to saving you some green, your new boards will be “green” because of the way they were built. 333 Skis are made in a small off-the-grid factory.

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Michael Lish of 333 skis

Lish is ambitious about his company — he hopes it will change the ski industry, and if it does it’s unlikely he’ll get rich in the process. He hopes others will follow his business idea and start their own company. “At 333, we are developing a solid business model and manufacturing platform that will allow local, sustainable ski manufacturing to take root in your ski town or any town with a ski culture,” he writes on his website.

Lish has a long resume in the ski and snowboard industry and has set up a number of factories for large companies, which he reeled of when I spoke with him last spring in his mobile factory, temporarily parked in a lot at Mammoth Mountain in California. Approachable, knowledgeable, friendly and utterly lacking in pretension, Lish is one of the coolest folks I’ve met in the ski biz.

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The mobile 333 ski factory was built from found and recycled materials

The process of getting a pair of skis from Lish and company includes answering about 40 questions about your skiing style that may or may not test your ability to articulate the way you ski, at least it did for the writer David Page, who penned an excellent article on the company.

After answering all of the queries, Page received a “description of what sounded like the perfect all-around pair of skis. “It was like having my fortune read,” wrote Page in Eastside Magazine.

But how did they ride?

“[S]uper fun, much friskier than anything I’ve skied in a long time. They were more than happy to be wound up into a matrix of tight slalom turns, but also held firm when I opened it up. I was surprised at how well the rocker-camber combo held off the chatter. And still floated nicely, as promised,” he said in an email interview.

So if you’re looking for custom skis, 333 is a great place to start. But get to it: word is getting out about 333 and they may soon be knee deep in orders.

—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

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