What happens when pro skiers age, become parents and aren’t so into pushing the boundaries of the sport on the mountain? If they’re like Eric Pollard, they transition into product development, pushing the boundaries of design to help a new generation of rippers follow in their ski tracks.
Don’t get us wrong: As you’ll see in the video at the bottom of this page, the dude still crushes it. But the 33-year-old Oregon native started his pro career in his early teens, so he has nearly 20 years of high-level experience. Combine that with his longtime interest in art and graphic design—not to mention filmmaking—and the shift toward equipment innovation is only natural.
We recently caught up Pollard, who has been with Line Skis for 15 years, constantly testing, thinking and dreaming up ways to improve on existing gear. Case in point: the new Line Pescado, a wide, surfy, swallow-tailed ski that could change how you get down the mountain. Here’s what he told us about product design, revolutionary skis and the future.
“I had the concept of what I was going to do, give the skier a more relaxed feeling while skiing powder because the tail sinks down. But you could totally hop on the hard pack or use it as an all-mountain ski. I’m excited to make a narrower version.”
Why the transition from skiing to developing the equipment?
It was easy to want to get involved. The equipment was not allowing me to do what I wanted. I started at 18 tinkering around to make changes to skis. Since then I have gotten more involved. I work with the engineers to convey my idea. It’s just easier to be more involved in order to get exactly what you are looking for.
How did you get into it?
I grew up at a time in skiing when people weren’t experimenting. Parabolic skis were revolutionary, but I was still unable to do things that I was dreaming up like a tail on the back of the skis or playing with camber lines. I was trying to make skis considerably wider but I didn’t have a jig wide enough so I duct taped them and drilled. This was all during a time when I began working with Line as a boutique.
Is your stuff focused on free ride and backcountry guys like yourself?
My motivation has changed. As a young skier, I made skis just for me. I would make a pro model and if they sell, great. For years, most of my skis didn’t make it to the market. Then people began buying them because of how playful they were. At this point I started catering my designs to the interests of all skiers.
What motivated you to create the Pescado? Where did the concept come from?
I pitched this ski about 10 years ago. At the time there were a lot of surfboards and snowboards I was riding that were [wide and float-friendly] like that. I finally started the project in 2012, made the ski myself and took it to Line. They bought into it and were psyched. The fourth prototype was super sweet. I had the concept of what I was going to do, give the skier a more relaxed feeling while skiing powder because the tail sinks down. We are now getting more purchase out of it. We didn’t realize how all-around it was. We thought it was just for powder, but you could totally hop on the hard pack or use it as an all-mountain ski. Now I’m really excited to make a narrower version.
Do you mainly ski prototypes or finished products?
Most of my life I was skiing prototypes. It was tough because you always knew that something would be wrong with the skis. It got to the point where I really liked what I was skiing. It was roughly the 2011 Bacons and Opus [two Pollard-designed Line skis]—I skied them for that entire winter. It is a big difference when you are consistent on a ski. You get used to it, push things because you know the limits. Nowadays it is a blend of prototypes and my own [finished] skis. I am always tweaking camber lines and flex patterns.
Have you always been into art, or did that come around as a result of designing ski graphics?
I was surrounded by art as a kid. I could sketch and had decent ability but it wasn’t something that I could say I had potential in. I could not stand ski graphics. It looked like they belonged on NASCAR. In high school, I got a ski from Line and I airbrushed it. The graphic spanned both skis and there was nothing like that. The Line people came to my house and thought what I had done was way better graphics. I did this tree with acrylic painting. I didn’t know anyone who could paint it for me so I needed to do it myself. I’m not necessarily gifted, so it takes me a while.
What is your inspiration for the graphics that you design?
I’m relatively old so I’ve tried a lot. Most of my graphics are very basic. There are some philosophical undertones in some of them. When I was young, I just thought of what looked good on a ski. I built some graphics based on the mountain that I grew up skiing.
Do your future plans include more equipment and apparel design, art and movie production?
Yeah, all those things. It has been really fun working [on apparel] with Dakine and they’re giving me a lot more creative control. I also want to keep working on the movie side. I want to get more into ski design. The more creative control that I have, the more the latitude increases. That’s my goal, to make more skis that people can ski on…