If you are a skier, you know the thrill of each year’s release of new gear, and the accompanying product reviews that name the best skis of the season. If you’re Josh Smart, however, you look at new skis in a different light. Smart, an Okemo team member who works as a sign maker in the resort’s Sign Shop, found himself disappointed with the performance of each year’s equipment introductions and the claims different ski companies made. He simply couldn’t find a good fit when it came to skis, so he took matters into his own hands. “I kept trying, but couldn’t find a pair that I really liked. None of them gave me what I wanted, so I made my own,” Smart said. Originally from Skowhegan, Maine, Smart grew up skiing Sugarloaf starting at the age of 7. He fell in love with Ver- mont while studying graphic design at Champlain College, and decided to make the Green Mountains his home after graduation. He worked in a ski shop before launching his career as a graphic artist and sign maker. “I sold skis,” said Smart, “so I got to know about the technology and the design that went into manufacturing them.” The first pair of skis he made took a year in research and development because he knew that if he took any shortcuts he would end up with another pair of unsatisfactory skis. The bulk of his research involved the materials he would use and how to resource those materials. After acquiring some additional specialized tools and another two months of construction that took place in a small shed on his property, Smart had his first pair of skis and Smart Skis were born. “I always liked the natural look of wood and admired the old wooden skis friends displayed on the walls of their ski lodges,” said Smart. “I thought, why not try to make wood skis again?” With his first taste of success and interest from friends to purchase his handcrafted boards, Smart moved out of his shed and converted his garage into a workshop. He experimented with three models of his Smart Skis that offered different flex options. He called his park-and-pipe model Street Smarts and two types of all-mountain skis Smart Ashes, available in 98mm and 108mm underfoot. These skis were all constructed with a DuraSurf 4001 base paired with industry-standard triaxial fiberglass and traditional hardened steel edges. They offered a strong, organic look with natural wood veneer top sheets combining ash, mahogany, cherry, maple or walnut, and finished with his bull moose logo. The evolution of Smart’s ski designs have taken him in a new direction. He recently constructed his first pair of what he calls Hick Sticks, a hickory wood-based ski. His first pair measured 178 cm in length, with a 130mm nose width, 102mm underfoot, and 120mm at the tail. He took the classic hickory ski and put a modern spin on it by using epoxy, fiberglass, and carbon fiber, a tapered laminate core and a rocker camber profile. A swallowtail cut on the tails allows for more contact with the snow when the ski is on edge, but once you get into powder and softer snow, they can turn more quickly due to the shorter overall length. The simple way to describe the Hick Sticks is that they feel longer on hardpack, while being shorter and more maneuverable in powder and light snow. Since his first build in 2013, Smart has made a dozen pairs of skis, including some custom skis for close friends. Making skis began as a hobby for Smart, but it is turning into a passion, as he receives requests for his skis and continues to challenge himself as a fabricator to develop new products. “I like making skis that are customized for people. It’s fun to make pairs specific for them and what they want out of a ski,” Smart said. Smart stressed that his favorite part about the construction of his skis is the element of start-to-finish completion. He really enjoys having an idea about how he wants a ski to look or perform, and being the one who makes the changes necessary for that to happen. “It’s rewarding after all the hard work that goes into them to be able to ski and have fun on something that you made,” Smart remarked. Smart says he plans to “keep improving the product,” and he will “keep making skis as long as people want them.” More information is available at smart-skis.com! R E S O R T P R O F I L E Josh Smart IS LIVING THE DREAM homefront B Y J A K E LO O M A N okemo.com > 802-228-1600 > page 31