Finding a Crowd Free Tahoe: Tahoe Praxis ski maker taking innovative strides
Learn more about the local made skiing gear
January 23, 2012
Well, it looks like a decent, season starting storm cycle is on track for the western United States. What a fetch this one has, too, drawing moisture out of the tropics, plugging it into a consolidated jetstream and (hopefully) blasting the Tahoe area. With this in mind, I think that it’s safe to start talking about skiing Tahoe and local ski manufacturers representing the Sierra Nevada.
At the end of last year I had the opportunity to tour Praxis Ski’s factory in Incline Village. At that time I met all three co-owners of this small, yet innovative ski company. Having worked in ski shops, I already knew that Praxis made a quality product that appealed to both the Sierra backcountry skier, as well as the resort ripper. However, what I didn’t know was that these guys are really pushing the norms of design and what tradition would call practical geometry in a trend-led market. Moreover, these guys are proving the utility of their designs by performing at the highest competitive levels – most notably on the Freeride World Tour. More on that later.
By definition, praxis is the exercise or practice of an art, science, or skill; the practical application of a theory. Apparently, Praxis Skis is not just a brand name; it seems to be the company’s philosophy as well. As founder Keith O’Mera pointed out on our tour: “we can come up with a design idea at the end of the day, grab a six-pack, and start working on that concept… we’ll be skiing the thing a few days later.” Now that’s an act of praxis, if I don’t say so myself.
Praxis Skis was founded by Keith O’Meara back in 2005 and like many entrepreneurial start-ups with a tight budget, the HQ, factory and office were set-up in the founder’s garage. At the core of these humble beginnings was the idea that Praxis was going develop skis that “brought the powder board style to firm snow,” says Keith. Coupled with that idea was the notion that their skis would “reduce fatigue and increase the fun factor.”
No doubt the modern “surfy” style designed into their skis allows the rider to swivel on a greatly reduced snow contact point, thus providing an easy way to dump excessive speed. At the same time, this reduction in surface contact provides a more “smeary” style that is indeed quite fun and requires significantly less energy than trying to produce the same results on traditionally cambered skis. In this way, Praxis has already achieved much of its stated goal for the Lake Tahoe winter sport. However, the work doesn’t stop there.
Keith and company believe that there are still more innovations to be made in ski geometry. Take for example the development of Compound Camber (which is featured in the BPS and the Concept models of the 2012 line). A traditional camber provides a consistent arch from the tip and tail contact points. In contrast, the compound camber has a double arch that provides contact at the tip, tail and under foot. This allows one to have the control and purchase of a traditional ski in firm snow, but provides the option for swivel turning that is regularly associated with reverse camber skis. Not a bad option for big mountain riding where conditions can vary from turn to turn.
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Also, Praxis has developed a unique side-cut design called Tri-Cut that aims to produce similar results as the compound camber. With the Tri-Cut design the skier has the option to make arching turns with traditional side-cut, yet the ski widens underfoot to produce a reverse side cut. Thus, the ski can perform in a new or old school fashion depending on the needs of the rider. As the savvy skier can imagine, combining these two features – Tri-Cut and Compound Camber – would be very complementary because camber and side-cut work together.
If this all sounds complex, well, it is. But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective and beneficial. If Praxis team rider Drew Tabke’s performance on the World Freeride Tour is an indicator, these skis rip in a major way! Considered to be a wild card, Drew came on the scene to shred his way into third place at the 2012 FWT opening event at Revelstoke, Canada. This venue is huge (by North American standards) and complex, offering a multitude of terrain options and features. Drew preformed at high speed and with precision. At one point in the finals, Drew launched a sizable cliff, tweenering a pair of trees on a high speed run out. Drew gives much of the credit to the capability and versatility of these new ski designs.
With all the option available to those who ski Tahoe (and beyond) these days, Praxis is carving out a place for themselves as an innovative, cutting-edge company. Check them out. There’s something in the line for every type of skier. Plus, it never hurts to support a local company that has Sierra snow in mind with every new design.
Originally published in the January 23, 2012, issue of the Tahoe Daily Tribune and regularly vetted for accuracy.