Local skier and entrepreneur Keith O’Meara started building Praxis Skis out of his garage in Truckee, CA. He was looking for a way to try new ski designs and to frankly ski more. His handcrafted powder skis have spawned a cult like following and for good reason. Nowadays you can find Praxis skis killing powder lines around the world. I had an opportunity to talk with Praxis Skis owned Keith O’Meara awhile back about the birth of the company, his love for skiing and where the company is heading. Here is what he had to say.
How did the idea for Praxis come about?
Basically I didn’t like my job and wanted to ski more. I am an entrepreneur at heart and was looking to start a business. I did a few years of research on how to build skis mostly based off from the snowboard industry and decided I could build some pretty sick skis. All this was at the time when Volant was going out of business and the spatula was not going to be produced anymore. I thought it would be possible to get the company started by filling that nich market. Shane really changed how we all looked at powder skis and I knew this was the tip of the ice burg in what you would see for future powder skis. Over the next couple years well I worked on designing and construction methods, I watched as the ski industry stalled and started moving in the wrong direction with powder ski designs. This gave me unexpected time to beat major companies to market with a real powder ski. Also gave me motivation to make a ski that the industry was ignoring.
Where or how did you learn how to make skis?
After 2 years of research and designing I purchased 10,000 dollars or so in equipment and materials. Hoping to make some skis in my garage and maybe even sell a few pair to cover expenses that winter. After months of working on the project that fall I was about to press my first pair of skis. It was a Sunday afternoon and I decided to go skiing since we had just received our first snow storm and press the skis the following day. I was really excited about skiing that year, maybe to excited and I hit the first tree I came to and broke my femur. About a month later I pressed that first pair rolling around the shop in an office chair.
I could not ski them so I sent them out for my friends to try. All in all, that first pair got really good feedback and held up well. So I kept working on it.
Mostly I have taught myself to make skis. I researched as much as possible on the science of working with the materials that go into skis and studying what the industry has done and is doing. I have ripped apart most every ski brand you can think off and that is a great way to learn. I tried contacting K2 for advice but they wont’ return my emails J.
Currently we have a small “factory” in truckee, much more equipment to work with and I have found several people that worked in the snowboard industry to consult with and the whole process is revolutionized from the days in the garage.
How many different ski designs did you try before you had your final product?
I’m not even sure on that one. A lot of little tweaking on the original design and construction methods. Probably only a couple dozen pair and I had a product I felt really good about them and started selling a few pair. From there we’ve made a lot of changes to the construction, shape, flex, and overall quality of the skis. Really I like this powder ski so much I do not expect to change the design a lot for next year. Just minor things at this point.
I also have designed and prototyped several other shapes and style skis. I just have not had the chance to manufacture them to sell. The fact that the major ski industry refuses to make a true powder ski has kept me busy making this one style ski.
With the increased production ability I expect to have several new models out next year, some that are also very different and very effective for the right skiers.
Where are most of your skis being shipped?
All over. I have shipped skis to all the western US states, Alaska, Texas, all over New England, Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Florida, Several Midwest States and a lot of skis to Europe, some to Japan, New Zealand. I would say I shipped the most to Colorado and Utah. I heard they were all over Little Cottonwood Canyon this year. And a bunch of representation at Alpine Meadows.
The internet and the guys over at TGR have made all this happen in a way I never expected. Thanks.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in getting Praxis to where it is today? Money, money, money, money, and financing. Taxes suck too. What is the most enjoyable part about making skis for you?
Skiing the skis we make is the best part. It’s a great feeling to make a new design and go test it. But in the actual production of the skis I like building the core the most. We take high quality lumber that we hand pick from lumber yards for grain and quality. Our cores are scrutinized and made to be the best possible. This actual woodworking to perfection is what I love most. The rest is just rapping fiberglass and plastic around that main piece but the core makes the ski.
Thanks Keith, To order up some Praxis Skis head over to their website PraxisSkis.com