July 28, 2014

This Blog is No Longer Being Updated

This blog is no longer being updated. Please visit our new new blog to follow along with Grace Skis. Thank you.

June 16, 2014

Ultralight Core Testing in AK

Thanks Matt Ahlrichs...this efforts helps us get to where we need to be...

Hey guys over at Ski Grace.

Thanks again for another great ski season. To put it lightly, this was an odd winter in Alaska resulting in constantly changing snow conditions. The weather went from blower conditions, to ice storms, to obscene avalanche danger and back to blower conditions again. This made for great conditions to test a new pair of skis. With around 30 days in the backcountry on the prototype Kylies I feel that I have been able to get a good sense where they excel and where they may need some improvement. It should be noted that before I received my Grace Skis I was skiing on a set of Elan Pogo Sticks. With Marker Baron bindings the Pogo Sticks weigh around 20-25 lbs., have very little camber underfoot and a slight early rise. Essentially the Pogo Sticks are crud busters that can hold an edge like it’s no one’s business.

Now that you have an idea of what I have been skiing on for the last three years, let’s get back to the true backcountry chargers; the prototype Kylies.
With the Plum bindings I put on them they come in at just under 5 lbs. I mounted the skis one dot back from boot center. I also got a new pair of boots, the Scarpa Maestrale, leaving the bulk of the weight I was carrying was in my pack. In good conditions, these skis made the backcountry feel more like my backyard.

Let’s start with the construction of the ski. These skis are not only amazing but also beautiful. The product that Grace Ski delivered shows the care and consideration of someone who understands what it takes to make a simple, eloquent, and practical ski. The skis felt very well balanced resulting in a smooth and effortless ride. However the laminate used for the top sheet cracked and peeled throughout the season. I’m not sure if this was a result of an incomplete bond with the wood or a faulty lacquer. Regardless, the result was a very brittle top sheet. This was solved with airplane epoxy, superglue, and duct tape. I have included a photo of the separation but there were several others that I fixed before I was able to get a photo.

When I held the ski up to a bright light, I could see the core through the ski which was pretty cool. However, this ultra-lightweight core was insecure to mount. Both of the toe pieces in my Plum bindings completely pulled out within the first week of owning the skis. This was solved with re-mounting the bindings with heliacoils. We should discuss new strategies to try and alleviate this mounting problem.

I started the season on G3 skins, but switched to Black Diamond part way through the season. I cannot emphasize how frustrating the performance of the G3 skins was compared against the superior Black Diamond skins. The weight of these skis when combined with the Black Diamond skins made skinning in good conditions a breeze. Many days this season breaking trail, which these skis excelled at. The wide base and low weight of these skis kept me at the front of the group without getting fatigued. Additionally, I found the early rise prevented my tips from getting caught on the snow in switchbacks.

However, I found the caber maybe a little too pronounced. This required me to change the way that I skin up mountains. I had to completely re-distribute my weight towards the back of the ski to ensure that I was maintaining as much contact with the snow as possible. On steeper, icier slopes I found the camber encouraged me to slip. This may be something that becomes less of an issue as I continue to skin on these skis, but was something that I noticed with the skis out of the box.

If I had one word to describe these skis on the downhill it would be incredible.
As I mentioned earlier, this season was full of variable conditions. Obviously the prototype Kylies responded best in deep powder. I found that because the skis were well balanced, the deep and heavy powder that is often seen along the coast of Alaska (Juneau, Seward, and occasionally the Turnagain Arm) required less effort to ski. This translated to a more confident and responsive ride. The camber made turns quick and springy. The first time I took these skis out I pushed the camber a little too hard and wound up launching myself into a snow bank. Ooops. The early rise is just enough to keep the tips from digging in deep snow but not enough to prevent the ski from being able to ski in variable conditions, which I find is often the case with raised twin tips. What was the thought process behind setting the early rise where it is? Would it make sense to move it toward the front of the ski a little bit to increase rigidity and snow contact area?

When the conditions became icy or choppy the Kylies performed beautifully. They are able to hold an edge when needed and had enough rigidity to bust through sections of light crud. However I did notice that there was a lot of chatter and the skis became very squirrely in technical terrain that was boiler plate hard. This was often noticed in the alder patches near the bottom of the mountain. This is not really that surprising considering the size, weight, and recommended use for these skis. Speaking of recommended use, I should note that I did not use these skis to drop any cliffs or do any jumps for fear of the ski folding or snapping.

I believe that when the prototype Kylie goes into production it will completely revolutionize the backcountry ski market. Comparing the Kylies to DPS skis the difference in weight and construction is immediately apparent. These skis were everything that I thought they would be and have made me feel more confident in the backcountry. The skins up are much less exhausting compared with my old skis and descents feel like cutting through butter with a hot knife. Everyone that has seen these skis in action has been blown away by how versatile yet light weight the skis are. I think that once the top sheet and mounting problems have been resolved this will be a coveted ski for any quiver.

Perhaps we could set up a time to discuss these issues and move ahead for a new prototype for next season?

I’ve attached some photos from the places that I took my Grace Skis this season. I hope you enjoy them.

Thanks again and I look forward to continuing collaborating with Grace Skis.

Matt Ahlrichs

January 19, 2013

Custom Top Sheet Gallery

At Grace skis, we can burn our customers a custom top sheet.  This allows the owner of to represent their company, branding, style or something meaningful to the Grace owner.

First are the stock top sheets.

                    Jake All Mountain                   The KIWI Big Powder                   Kylie Big Mountain

Gulmarg India 2013

Drew Ingardia : Roots Team Athlete

Alex Riedman: Core7 Athlete

Cole Herdman: Roots Team Athlete

Drew Rouse: Core7 Athlete

Mark Kolgelmann: Grace Roots Athlete

Osprey Packs

Alaska Powder Descent

National Ski Patrol 75th Anniversary Ski

Kind Design Company Ski

December 17, 2012

Grace Kylie 186 first impressions for 2012-13

Used the Kylie 186's yesterday for the first time and really loved them.  I was a bit shaky at first because I skied them cautiously to try to get the feel for them before really opening them up but quickly realized that they are not a cautious ski at all.  These things are made to be charged and skied aggressively and once I decided to ski them like any other ski in my quiver I was pretty blown away.  I was amazed at how easy it was to lay down a sharp turn on the edge without over-working my legs like I've had to do on similar sized powder skis once I get out of the fresh stuff.  I mounted them at 38 and am very happy with that decision.  These things blasted through crud and bumps without a hint of stiffness yet lay down a tight and hard edge when you decide to dig into the surface.  You can really feel the difference between the tip/tail and the effective edge which is something I've never been able to notice in some other skis I've used.  Day 1 was an early season powder/packed powder day but not a true monster day.  I'm really looking forward to opening these things up on a steep, bottomless day to get the full experience.  Straight A's so far, nice work!


PS - Got a lot of questions/comments in the lift lines yesterday, people are curious