And I've been a skier for about 50 years.
In that time, I’ve skied all over the world. Competed in freestyle and alpine, I’ve been an instructor, I joined the ski patrol, I’ve worked in ski resort hotels and managed ski lodges.
My obsession with the mountains, snow and skiing started when I was very young. And I am reminded of my parent’s resilience every time I go up a T-bar with someone shorter than my waist, as the T-bar sits behind my knees and pays me back one ride at a time for the thousands of times I went up as a child. I might not have said it at the time, but ‘thanks Dad'.
I started tinkering with snow related vehicles when (after watching a French news report on the ’Winterstick’ in 1983), I made my own ‘Winterstick’ and took it down to Perisher. They didn’t know what to make of it back then, and wouldn’t even let me up on the lifts, so backcountry trekking (okay, it was only walking up North-P) was the way to get it done. I still have that snowboard on my wall today. And it still looks good. It's a fully custom-made board after all.
Since those formative days, I have continued to ski on as many sizes, shapes, flex patterns and materials of ski I could find. I've hung around and worked with some amazing people in the ski industry and absorbed as much knowledge as I could. Every now and then I would find ‘those’ skis. The ones that just worked from the first turn. But I found that as skis were designed and manufactured to suit a broad range of skier, it was more luck than science that lead me to find a pair that worked (I mean really worked) for me. When they would wear out, it was hard to find a replacement that worked as well. So I started asking ‘why’? I learnt about the process of making a ski. What goes into it and why. Camber profile, side radius, taper, edge thickness, etc.
I discovered that there are great artisan manufacturers out there who really care about
what they are building and how it works under your feet. They listen to their customers and put the feedback into their products. They make their skis by hand. With care and attention. In small batches. Their skis behave better, last longer and feel the way they should. They are skis to be proud of.
Our aim at Blackbird is to ensure that we match you to the right pair of skis, so you find ‘that’ feeling again. All skiers are different, so why aren’t your skis? We like to find out how you ski, where you ski and what you want to ski, amongst other things. This way, we get to know more about ‘you’ so we can tailor your selection to what we know will provide you the best experience.
Why do I love skiing and inspiring other people to ski more, too?
I love skiing because it creates so much joy. I see it in the faces of first timers and seasoned ski bums. It’s the same look - pure joy in that moment. As I have introduced people to skiing I see how infectious it is and it isn’t long before they’re looking for ways to enhance their experience, ski wider terrain and explore mountains. It makes a positive ripple in the world - and it starts with a willingness to share the good stuff.
With the right pair of skis under foot (and some very comfy boots), it can dramatically change someone’s skiing experience. After getting my wife into some comfy boots and on a set of skis that were perfect for her, I found that it had a profound effect not only on our ski trips, but the rest of the year too!
If there is something on this website that inspires you to invest in some handcrafted skis, plan a ski trip, introduce someone to skiing or just share a ski story, that’s awesome.
You never know how you might change someone else’s life.
My alter-ego is the one who works in advertising-marketing and the digital realm. I am constantly researching on how to be at the forefront of online retail, marketing and social media. I particularly love the disruptive nature of the internet but promise to use it for good, not evil.
When I'm not skiing, you'll find me cycling, riding a motorbike or driving down a country road. - Toby.