Snowboard technology is a bit like dentistry – it hasn’t changed much over the years. This observation, and a parallel commitment to the educational education of skiers, from novice to expert, persuaded longtime friends Andy Wirth and Bordmiller to venture into what their industry recognized as a high-stakes craft. They formed the Peak Ski Company with the goal of elevating the sport’s main piece of equipment—the technology of the skis themselves—not just for emerging superstars, but for anyone who loves to play with the snow.
It’s worth noting that Wirth, the former chief operating officer of the Palisades Tahoe, and Miller, the most winning alpine skier in U.S. history, were friends for more than a decade before deciding to start a business together. Now Montana neighbors Wirth and Miller founded Peak Ski with a paradigm-changing vision, and this season, their snowboards are selling direct-to-consumer at incredibly affordable prices.
Miller describes the transformation he first witnessed when he adjusted someone’s skis by a mere centimeter, and it was nothing short of amazing for a skier—the brand’s keyhole technology, which is essentially an alloy A hole is cut out of the top layer, allowing for precise customization. “It gave him better control and easier initiation of turns while maintaining momentum,” Miller said. “He was shocked that such a small adjustment could make such a huge difference.”
This technique works equally well for men and women. Peak disapproves of the “pink and shrink” of women’s skis. Peak skis are designed for ease of use and higher g, regardless of gender. The addition of professional alpine skier Michelle Parker to the company’s leadership team as senior director of product development and innovation serves as evidence for this claim.
They also tuned the weight so that the skis are light, but not too light, since a ski needs a certain amount of mass to ensure “best” performance. Who knows this better than Bod Miller, a veritable household name for his prowess in the sport?
Although Miller didn’t formally study engineering, he thought in terms of design. When I talked to him about the project, he seemed to me a bit like a kinesthetic engineer, someone who learned design from the inside through a lifetime of practice.
Wirth’s approach to marketing is also different. Peak is an intentionally small and tight-knit company, a group of professional peers who keep each other vigilant. And because they aren’t accountable to corporate overlords, they can experiment, throw themselves into the process, and release the best of their labor on their own schedule. He preferred education to tough sales, storytelling to flashy advertising, poetry to punchlines — Robert Frost and John Steinbeck are quoted on the Peak Ski website.
Darrin Haugen, vice president of innovation, design and production, confidently predicted: “There is no doubt that this will change the way everyone skis.” Miller and Wirth are not throwing out buzzwords about “disruption” or “thinking outside the box.” Is more willing to define their “grit” – essentially perseverance in all aspects of work – and “innovation”, not as a cliché, but as a basic, fundamental way of seeing the world. And, of course, make it more ski-friendly.