According to the latest research from the Ski Club of Great Britain, 92% of UK skiers own their own kit. Of these, 94% have their own boots and 69% have splashed out on skis or a snowboard. If you’re like me, your boots are somewhat of an essential comfort purchase but buying skis is as much about how beautiful they are as it is about the technical aspects.
I remember testing the first pair of skis I bought (K2 Apaches) as clearly as if it were yesterday. I found skis I loved and, happily, they loved me right back. My skiing improved immediately and continued to do so as we got used to each other.
Nix Snowsports was born out of a desire to take this one step further. In his London workshop, James Mechie will craft skis or a snowboard for you based not just on your weight and height, but also to match your skiing ability and preference. We had a tour of his workshop and asked James to tell us more.
MDS: What first made you decide to set up Nix?
James: To be honest, it all started as little more than a casual conversation over a beer, back in 2008 in Les Deux Alps the French Alps. A few of us were doing a winter season and we started talking about what we’d like to change to make our gear perform better for us. After my winter, I decided to train in Industrial Design and Engineering, and then set about turning my ideas into reality. In the US, bespoke skis are pretty established but it’s more of a fledging business in Europe so setting up Nix has been a pretty interesting journey for me. It started by building a press in 2014 after which I spent the next few years designing, redesigning, building prototypes and product testing, before launching this year.
MDS: What exactly is a press and is the building process the same for skis and snowboards?
James: The press is the piece of machinery which compresses all of the layers of the ski together into its final shape. The pressure and temperature is controlled to make sure the laminate is as strong and lightweight as possible.
Apart from the obvious differences between ski and snowboard shapes, the build process is largely the same for both; we use a super strong breed of bamboo for all of our cores, along with specially woven fibreglass fabrics, carbon fibre, and race grade bases for the ultimate on-snow performance.
MDS: So what do you take into account when you’re starting on a new set of skis?
James: Each pair of skis we make is tailored to fit, using a range of information such as physical measurements, skiing style and preferences to alter the material configuration, flex patterns and even shape. We offer seven ski models in our Made to Measure (MTM) line, and each one is tailored to suit. For example, we have two pairs of Siren MTM skis that look identical from the outside but because one pair has been made for a pro skier and the other for a more recreational skier, there is a real difference in the flex and other attributes.
MDS: What’s the difference between Made to Measure and Bespoke?
The Made to Measure (MTM) series and Bespoke series are essentially different levels of customisation. Our MTM series is the range of ski shapes which we tailor to fit you. With our Bespoke service we take this a step further by building a totally unique pair of skis from scratch, designed entirely around you, from the shape, to the materials, to the amount of camber and rocker. Ultimately whether you go MTM or Bespoke, you’ll get a pair of skis or snowboard that is as individual as you are.
MDS: How else can you customise skis and snowboards?
James: Our customers can also create their own unique topsheet for a completely individual look. Some ones we’ve done recently include designs inspired by favourite album covers, the Japanese rising sun, photographs and even doodles.
Tailor fitted Made to Measure Series start at £795 for skis and £495 for snowboards, with unique graphics for an additional £100. Bespoke skis are priced from £1375. For a special 10% discount, use the code MDS10 for all orders before 31 December.