Skis all their own work

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Two enterprising Queenstowners have applied the Kiwi No.8 wire approach to their winter passion – they’re now making their own skis. 

Guy Barker and Russell Tilsley are selling their all-mountain Core Skis to snow-lovers after less than two years of trials, errors and tinkering in their workshop. 

The duo learned how to make skis on the internet and came up with an ingenious way to bind them together – using six-inch fire hoses, an electric heater and some blankets from the Salvation Army on their home-made ski mould machine. 

But they’re no amateurs – Barker owns a construction company and Tilsley a screen printing business, and together they’ve got about 40 years’ skiing experience. 

Using materials like a bamboo core, triaxial fibreglass and carbon fibre, the men build their “perfect” skis before moulding them in a press that produces 24 tonnes of pressure through fire hoses. 

To set the resin that binds the materials together, a heater and blankets are applied. 

“It’s the same construction method as top-end skis – but they’ve got big machines that can mass-produce them,” Barker says. 

Detailing is added before they head to a ski shop for a tune, then bindings are fitted. 

Fourteen pairs have been made since April last year and the men say they found the winning formula before selling them on the open market. 

“We ski them pretty hard so we’re pretty good test pilots for them,” Barker says. 

They’re taking orders to sell the Core Skis and can custom-build and design to anyone’s requirements. Prices start at $800 without bindings. 

“Most people have been pretty impressed,” Tilsley says. 

“It’s a lot of fun, especially when you’re on the ski lift and people ask us, ‘Where did you get your skis from?’ and we say, ‘We built them in the garage down the road’.”