Questions that you always wanted to ask – now answered by the Madshus pros:
– Bjorn Ivar Austrem, R & D director
– Per Wiik who runs both racing and marketing departments
– and Nils Hult, Madshus CEO himself:
– We all all know there are great skis and not-so great skis. Some ( many) medals were won even in the last season not on the newest skis, but on those 2-3, even 5 years old ( not specifically Madshus – we are talking all leading manufacturers here) How come ”great skis” can’t be replicated en masse?
– There are, obviously, external factors such as different snow, humidity, altitude etc. etc. But let’s assume there are skis that “just run great always” as per their happy owner. There are two things to consider for us as manufacturers:
Supplies variation. Yes, we have stringiest requirements – sometimes exceeding those in aerospace, for instance – but there is a limit of how much we could check. The matter is, the modern racing skis have reached such a top technological level, became such fine-tuned high-end product that even absolutely minuscule amount of variations could affect them potentially.
Production process. Even 1 degree of heat temperature difference in the mold or 1 (one!) millisecond in that mold affects the properties of that particular pair. How it affects them is a different matter – and that what out R & D is aimed at, but it’s worth to remember that we operate at the very edge of the current technological possibilities.
– Assuming money is no object, when will there be truly personalized skis, ”made on order” for a specific athlete ( or even an amateur), taking into consideration her/his measurements, skiing style, personal preferences etc. etc.
This is one of most promising areas of development, the future of high-end skiing. Key equipment producers are working on it – and we at Madshus are not an exception, we launched our project some three and half years ago. The huge problem, hampering progress in that direction is a total lack of relevant sensors measuring and analyzing specific skier’s motion. Developing them in-house is prohibitively costly so we look to buy them externally. There is some progress in that direction but it’s a long way to go.
Why keep producing skis in uber-expensive Norway when pretty much every other industry have moved to South – East Asia where they proved to be perfectly capable of producing high-end, technologically complicated products? Surely profit margins would grow for you and skis would become cheaper for an end-user?
Our top sales markets are, in order of importance, Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland. Not difficult to figure out that costs, speed – and flexibility of supply is easier to maintain from Biri than from some place in SE Asia. China, however, is a huge untapped market that will grow massively in the coming years – the authorities down there have expressed their intention to have 300 million skiing within the next ten years! Of course, as market develops, we would consider developing some of the high-end production down there.
But it’s not about closing it here, in Biri, and moving down there. Out biggest asset here is the skill of our workers. Norwegian worker is the world’s most expensive – but also the world’s most efficient. Terje down at the production line has a final say in matching the pairs of skis – each and every one of them, for a shop – and for an Olympic champion alike. Terje has been doing his job for 35 years! No computerized robot could replace him.
Got more questions to people who make some of the best skis in the world? Send them to us, we at the DailySkier will do out best to onpass them to Biri & have them answered.