Colorado’s Liberty Skis started, literally, with the roll of the dice. While the metaphor is useful for many a startup, few can claim that the seed funding came from a craps table in Vegas. The story goes like this: Liberty Skis’ founders Jim Satloff and Dan Chalfant were at the Snowsports Industry trade show (SIA, now hosted by Denver after its Sin City run), developing plans for a new ski brand. After a day on the floor of the show, they hit the craps table. Satloff’s head for numbers dovetailed with the fact that craps have the best odds in the house. And $20,000 later, Liberty was born.
Now, six years later, Liberty is a full-fledged brand, having graduated from a “boutique” offering for small specialty shops to a company with a global distribution system that includes Japan, Switzerland and Australia and a team of pro riders that are making headlines. This is all great, of course, but there’s more to Liberty than just one lucky roll on a steamy night in Vegas.
“We wanted to make skis that we liked to ski on,” says Chalfant. “It’s always been about skiers making skis for other skiers.”
Chalfant points to the fact that the company doesn’t make skis for beginners, and while intermediates can use and enjoy the skis, the fact that every model in Liberty’s lineup is performance-oriented means that the better you are, the more you’ll appreciate the ride.
“We’re obsessively focused on performance,” adds Chalfant. “We want to make skis that perform the best, no matter if you ride powder or park or just like to ski the whole mountain.”
It’s true that there’s not a lot of static in Liberty’s lineup. The brand keeps things simple with a core collection of just six models, far less than you’d find from, say, Salomon. The company also keeps things fun, with similar graphics in different colors depending on the length of the model, and pays attention to the ladies, with the specially designed Jinx.
The heart of Liberty, though, is bamboo. This environmentally friendly material is featured throughout the line, and coupled with poplar, makes for incredibly light, poppy and responsive skis.
“Bamboo is an amazing material,” says Chalfant. “It’s incredibly strong, has great life to it and is very, very light, which is perfect for skis. But best of all, it is a sustainable resource, as it grows very quickly. You harvest it, and it regenerates. It’s as simple as that.”
However, bamboo is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to Liberty’s commitment to the environment. The company uses wind power across the board, from its factories to its offices.
“We’re in a business where you have to care about the planet,” says Chalfant. “Global warming is a major deal when it comes to the future viability of our sport. While we can’t, as a brand, have zero impact on the planet with the technology available to us today, we try to mitigate the impact that we have as a company to the maximum extent we can.”
Still, the ultimate question for every skier is, “can you turn the damn things when you want to?” With a fist full of awards from every major ski magazine, including editor’s picks from Boulder-based Freeskier and similar kudos in Skiing and Powder magazines, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.”
For more on Liberty Skis, visit www.libertyskis.com.