Photo courtesy of Michael Goulette
A pair of Carpathian Skis hand-built by Jake Young.
By Michael Goulette
Until a few days ago, I believed the only things manufactured in Girdwood were hangovers and lactic quad pains. Then I had the good fortune of meeting Jake Young.
Owner of Carpathian Skis, Jake has been hand-building custom skis for four years. After a few seasons of diligent effort on the wannabe pro skiing scene, Jake relocated to Smithers, B.C.
“It is an amazing place to be a skier,” he said. “Imagine carving out a big chunk of the Alaska Range and dropping it into the middle of nowhere Canada.”
Jake describes a perfect ski town and mountain any ski bum would be happy to call home, saying, “Nobody knows about this place and the terrain is some of the best I have skied.”
Shortly after moving to Canada Jake lost his ski sponsor and decided to take matters into this own hands.
“I figured I could serve my own corporate agenda,” he said. “Manufacturing, media and sponsored athlete. Hard to get dropped by a sponsor when it’s yourself.”
Can’t argue with his reasoning. Spend a few years dealing with the minutiae of the industry and you too may start your own ski company. One thousand dollars for a new pair of Rossis or K2s is offensive in a good economy.
It was June of 2008 when Carpathian Skis was born. Jake purchased the equipment, built a press and began constructing skis. Interest built slowly and soon several of Jake’s friends were riding Carpathian custom skis. After moving back to Girdwood, Carpathian Skis now serves as the only ski company calling Alaska home. Watch the skis and the man in action at www.carpathianskis.com.
All of Jake’s skis are pressed flat. No camber, no reverse camber, just flat. Tips and tails are kerf-cut after pressing and bent to client’s specifications for as much or as little early rise desired. Graphics, fiberglass and epoxy make up the top-sheet, though Jake has recently started to work with carbon fiber. Half the weight of fiberglass, twice as strong and three times as expensive. Jake will laminate anything onto your new skis. Ski like a rock star? Imagine a ski with Van Halen graphics.
“Really it’s just an excuse to go skiing,” he said. “I probably won’t be able to retire because of Carpathian Skis, but any reason to go skiing is a good enough reason for me.”
I understand this man completely. I cannot imagine the satisfaction of skiing sick powder all day long on a pair skis built with my own hands.
The factory sits comfortably in the basement of Jake’s home at 283 Old Dawson Road. This is where I had the opportunity to inspect some skis with many days on them. Clearly Carpathian makes a durable product. Using a vertically laminated core of pine or spruce coupled with a maple mounting plate keeps the skis light and responsive. There is no plastic used in the construction of the sidewalls which makes for an attractive product especially appreciated by a carpenter like me.
Prices vary but are still about half as much as a pair off the rack at REI. Jake can make a completely custom ski for you or copy an existing ski. Use your imagination, create a design the world has never seen. If it weren’t for McConkey mounting a pair of water skis with Markers way back in ’96, we might not have reverse camber skis today. R.I.P. Shane, you changed skiing forever. Maybe Jake will too.
For more information call (907)336-5002 and ask for Jake. He’s head of marketing, manufacturing, research and development, purchasing, accounting, human resources and management. It’s not easy being the boss and the entire staff, but on the upside it is incredibly difficult to get fired.