We live in an era of increasing customization, and believe it or not, this trend even extends to the mountains. Hey, why buy a pair of skis off the rack that kinda do the job when you can get ’em crafted exactly to your own particular skill level, style and needs?
Enter Romp Skis, a boutique ski maker based in Crested Butte, Colorado, hand-crafting custom skis using the latest technology. We got an opportunity to test drive them recently, and here’s what we learned…
I immediately felt at home on the skis, as they did exactly what I had intended them to do. It’s almost like they’d been made for me… oh wait, they had!
To order Romp skis, you first jump on the phone with one of their ski-making experts, to brainstorm and design your ideal personal ski. You can have as much of a concrete idea as you like; any missing elements will be sorted out during this conversation.
You first pick your starting point out of a diverse range of base models with various overall shapes and widths, and then you choose all the ski’s parameters, from profile (rocker vs. camber) to tip shape to stiffness of various parts of the ski.
If you’re an expert and know exactly what you want, you can nerd out to your heart’s content. If you’re like me and you only have a vague idea about all the technical aspects, they’ll walk you through the setup process in plain English. You’ll provide some background and answer questions about how you ski and what you enjoy, and they’ll lay out the various possibilities, explain how they relate to your personal preferences and skiing style, and make recommendations.
In my case, it played out like this: I wanted a versatile all-mountain ski that excels on moguls and fast groomed runs but can also handle the occasional jaunt into the back bowls and into tree runs, which I love. After talking through the options, we zeroed in on a base model with slightly widened tips to handle some powder. (I’m based in New York and we unfortunately don’t get too much of it out here on the Ice Coast.)
We designed the center part of the skis to be on the stiffer end of the range to enable quick and responsive turns in those trees and to have a stable base for fast groomed terrain. The front tips are soft so that unexpected bumps in ungroomed tree terrain or on moguls get absorbed and don’t disrupt my line. The back tips are medium soft to provide immediate contact and traction after a quick turn.
Once the technical setup is complete, there’s one last fun step—you get to choose your very own look for the top side of the skis, either from a dazzling array of existing designs or by uploading your own image. After sleeping on it I picked a classic Galaxy graphic, and the ski crafters at Romp set to work.
A couple weeks later, I held the fruits of their labor in my hands. The skis are gorgeous, and they even have my name etched in. The starry night sky of the Galaxy design looks super cool against the white snow.
But looks aren’t everything, now I had to test them: I headed up to Vermont’s charming Magic Mountain right after a Nor’easter had dumped a couple feet of snow. All tree runs were open, so I got to test the skis on the full range of conditions I’d had in mind.
And I’ve gotta say, the skis performed beyond my wildest expectations. I immediately felt at home on them, as they did exactly what I had intended them to do. It’s almost like they’d been made for me… oh wait, they had!
They were stable on fast, open, groomed terrain, the edges providing excellent grip and carving beautiful turns. The slightly widened shape delivered the right amount of float and control on off-piste powder sections. And the skis handled moguls and trees perfectly; they were nimble and responsive, enabling quick and dynamic turns and soft landings for bumps and jumps.
One aspect I came to appreciate was the improved terrain tracking specifically built into the tail ends of the skis. It was a somewhat novel experience, but it doesn’t prevent you from doing quick turns when you want to—and once you get used to it, it provides valuable sensory feedback.
In conclusion: If you cherish tree runs filled with powder, these skis hit the sweet spot. Otherwise, just talk to the experts at Romp and have yours custom-tailored to whatever you love!