EVL Skis came into being at the end of the 2016-2017 ski season, when recently-married ski-nerds, Melanie Mitchell and Wade Knott, were all revved up from a season of really epic East Coast tree skiing. They were full of ski design ideas and enthusiasm and Melanie was ready to put a couple of years of research on ski-building into practice. This is their story. (WARNING: This story ends with a cliff-hanger.)
May 2017: EVL Ski Company LLC is incorporated and Melanie and Wade begin building a ski press.
M: “So… we’re really doing this?”
W: “Only if it doesn’t cut into our skiing.”
The universe: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
Melanie and Wade decided to make skis that they would want to ski, rather than designing for a wider market. EVL Skis would be all about maximizing the fun of skiing in the challenging conditions and tight, tree-filled terrain found off-piste in the East. Freeride cliff skis. Nimble all-mountain skis. Skis wide enough to ride over anything and handle East Coast powder days. Skis designed for maneuverability and tuned for ice. But the very first model would be designed specifically with the playful pivots and slarves of East Coast tree-skiing (ala Smuggler’s Notch) in mind.
June 2017: Work began on designs for skis with unconventional profiles.
W, drawing a squiggly line: “Can you make me a pair of skis that looks like this?”
M: “Yeah, but… why?”
W: “Because I think they could be awesome. I am an unstable genius!”
M: “Challenge accepted.”
Melanie began producing prototype skis during the 2017-2018 ski season – the first skis touched snow after eight (long) months of effort. Wade was the first official Test Driver.
January 2018: Testing began on the first two pairs of prototype skis.
W: “I’m going to try them first, in case they explode.”
M: “Wait! I want to get footie of that.”
The third pair prototype skis was as much an experiment in graphics techniques as it was a test of performance characteristics. Melanie finally found a use for her art degree. Each pair of skis became an opportunity to design with textiles, original illustrations, epoxy tints, and metalflake (aka “glitter”).
February 2018: Melanie designed the EVL ‘e’. The funky look and snarky attitude of the EVL Skis brand started to come together.
W: “Our skis should come with an ingredients label.”
M: “Oh, like ‘wood, fiberglass…’ that kind of thing?”
W: “Our skis are made of badass powder and victory juice!”
W: “And scorn!”
We set other requirements for our skis. As East Coast skiers, we have a bit of… let’s call it attitude, when it comes to deciding what conditions are skiable. We’re aware that there are skiers who only ski when there’s untracked powder or who won’t ski when the snow gets crispy, but… seriously? This is the East Coast, where skiing is supposed to be loud, unless it’s raining. Ice-glazed rocks are legit spots to make a turn. So are shrubberies. We expect our skis to be fun (or at least functional) in a wide range of difficult conditions. We mean it when we say, “Ski anything. Ski everything.”
June 2018: We took the first prototypes of the Skwerl 98 to test at Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area near Red Lodge, MT and validated the completely new Triple Rocker (R3) profile concept that Wade pulled out of… somewhere.
M, on an untested ski design, eyeing the 4 ft. vertical drop at the EASY entrance: “Watch this, y’all.”
W, 30 seconds later and several hundred feet lower: “Are you okay???”
2018 offseason: We jonesed for Winter, while making more Skwerl 98 prototypes, as well as prototypes for the PowSPLOSION 108 and various other experiments.
W: “I just counted the days and got all happy, because we’re closer to next ski season than we are to the last day I skied.”
2018-2019 ski season: Wade spent more than five weeks in Vermont, competing in freeskiing competitions on the weekends and training and testing skis during the week. We also had our first demo days, first official sales, and our first order for skis with custom graphics.
W: “All the kids on the Mad River Glen freeski team love me. They see me and they start chanting, ‘Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!'”
W: “…because I wear my ‘Jerry McSendie’ nametag to all the competitions and they see me every week. And I yell, ‘How you gonna send it?’ and they yell back, ‘Send it safe!’ The good kids get candy; the bad kids get circus peanuts.”
M: “That’s… wow.”
Now: We are in production with two different all mountain ski designs and several variations on a design for competition freeskiing.
To be continued…