Making lemonade from lemons. Making skis from . . . dead pine trees? That’s one theme at Meier Skis, a Glenwood Springs, Colo., custom ski manufacturer that sources beetle-killed pine trees for the core of its skis.
In recent years, a proliferation of beetles have killed millions of acres of forests in Colorado. A huge surplus of wood and immense stands of dead pine trees are the result.
Ski cores are just one of many products being produced from the regrettably plentiful wood. Meier uses the would-be-wasted wood as well as other eco techniques in the manufacture of its six-ski line.
I had a chance to rip up some mixed conditions during two days at Copper Mountain on a Meier Skis’ model called The Doc. I enjoyed the fun, poppy ski, which thrived in powder as well as bumpy crud.
The Doc is sold as a do-all “quiver killer” ski, including the versatility to ski a range of conditions with its minimalized camber underfoot and early-rise tips. With a 140-108-133 profile, The Doc has plenty of sidecut to carve hard-pack, yet it can float high in the deep white, too.
On my test, I was curious to see how the beetle-killed pine wood, visible through the top sheet, would hold up. Boy did I find out. Partway through my test day, in 6 inches of powder, I glided in silent, weightless glee through an open glade. I then started aggressively charging down a steep Copper Mountain bowl until. . . BAM!. . . I nailed a rock.
I was thrown sideways by the collision and was suddenly pointed at my buddy at a very fast clip. The next collision, caught for all posterity on the GoPro he wore on his helmet, took us both down hard.
Fortunately, nothing but my pride and the bottom of the Meier ski I was testing were injured. But the incident gave me insight into the durability of Meier’s beetle-kill pine — the rock gouged the base of the ski but left the wood undamaged and easy to repair.
For the rest of the day, the Doc preformed admirably in trees, bumps, powder and on hard-pack under lifts.
In addition to the pine core, the brand offers a few notable eco extras, including a non-toxic resin made from pine oil and recycled vegetable oil. It replaces the (ostensibly toxic) epoxy some ski companies use.
The sidewalls of the skis are built from recycled material. Meier Skis notes it buys most of its materials and products locally.
In the end, Meier checked off a few boxes for me: Made in the USA; eco friendly; durable; handcrafted; good looking and unique; and, most important, great-performing on the snow.
At $790, the Doc model is inline with many skis of its type. Check out the boutique brand this year still if you have a chance. There are demos available from shops in Colorado and Montana (see list on right column of this page) for skiers looking to give the beetle-kill skis a try.
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor based in Denver.