SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) -- U.S. Winter Olympic gold medalist David Wise captured the attention of billions of people around the world when he earned the top honor for his performance in men's freestyle skiing half pipe, and it was all possible because of his skis made at Moment Skis in Sparks.
"David is a Reno guy and was looking for a specialty ski. He just reached out to us almost 100 days before the Olympics," said Moment Skis CEO Luke Jacobson.
Moment Skis is at 1060 Marietta Way in Sparks.
"We made prototype after prototype. He would make suggestions and we would go back and forth and we finally dialed in the skis with one of the prototypes. We sent with him to the X Games where he won X Games gold," Jacobson said, recalling his 2013 conversation with Wise.
"This is the ski we continue to replicate and send with him to the Olympics," Jacobson said.
Wise wanted extremely stiff skis with plenty of Kevlar® inside. He also wanted and got extra dampening put in his skis. Dampening occurs when material placed inside the skis absorb some of the shock that comes with a hard landing or turn on the snow.
The custom skis made for Wise cost well over $1,000.
They were made by the 12 full-time employees who work at Moment Skis with Minnesota wood. Moment Skis often uses a blend of Aspen and Southern Yellow Pine. Several boards are glued together and put into a press.
Then a machine cuts a thin layer of wood across all the glued boards to help ensure evenness of the skis, free of defects or knots. Next, a machine cuts the shape the skis will hold with precision. Then, like a sandwich, the skis are put together layer by layer.
First the bottom. Epoxy is added to help hold all the parts together.
"You're going to have your first layer of fiberglass, which will have the Carbon Fiber woven into it. You're going to have to add rubber, which is put in certain areas of the skis," said Moment Skis employee Austin Young.
Next, a layer of dampening strips to help ensure a smooth ride. Dampening squares are put at each end of the skis. A layer of fiberglass is put over the entire ski. It's extremely light and extremely strong.
More dampening strips, another layer of epoxy, and the top is put on.
The skis are placed in a press. It puts 75 pounds of pressure on every square inch and heats the skis to 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. This allows all the materials to cure together and to make each ski one solid part.
The skis are allowed to sit for 24 hours and then they're taken to a band saw, where they're cut. The excess materials around the edges are removed. The sides of the skis are then smoothed with another machine to help them cut through the snow with as little resistance as possible.
Finally, a large rough stone spins over the base of the skis to ensure they're totally flat and smooth.
Moment Skis makes thousands of skis every year. Jacobson says Moment Skis is the largest ski manufacture in the United States. It produces thousands of skis every year.
Most of the skis at Moment Skis will cost between $650 and $800.