Yes, he’s the first to come out with a #FeeltheBern ski, but there’s more to Cyrus Schenk’s new Renoun skis. Schenck has used an engineering background to develop a revolutionary brand of skis that center on innovation and precision.
Seated in the stylish offices of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, a business incubator and co-working space in Burlington, Cyrus Schenck insists RENOUN is more of a tech company than a ski company.
“These are highly designed instruments,” he says. “We have an innovative solution to an age-old problem.” The 24-year-old eschewed the idea of becoming an aerospace engineer when he left college. Instead, he brought that same high-tech attention to detail to a one-man ski brand of his own. And it has some of the biggest names in the ski industry taking notice.
Born and raised in Shelburne, Vt., Schenck went to college at Clarkson in Pottsdam, N.Y. where he studied aeronautical engineering for two years before heading west for an internship with General Electric. His role there: installing highly sensitive monitoring equipment on massive gas and water turbines.
After his internship, Schenck returned to school. During a science class, he and his classmates were introduced to a new material that seemed to disregard all the rules of modern physics: D3O actually stiffens on impact.
D3O has been used in tennis rackets, iPhone cases and is being tested for use in body armor. Schenck’s idea was to apply it to skis, the theory being that the new material would allow the ski to adapt — flexing in softer conditions and stiffening on hardpack to provide a stable performance no matter the snow conditions.
In 2012, Schenck decided to leave Clarkson and began work on what would become RENOUN. What followed was a period of hard work and late nights, but with some very big payoff. In February 2015, RENOUN won a gold medal at ISPO (the leading international sporting goods trade show) in Germany, beating out larger brands. Just three months later, he won $30,000 in cash and $45,000 in in-kind services from LaunchVT, Vermont’s statewide business pitch competition.
The reviews for RENOUN have been positive. Three-time X Games champion Mike Nick is “a total believer,” and Tecnica’s Director of Innovation Richard Morin described the Endurance as “the silver bullet in today’s ski industry.”
RENOUN launched in earnest this fall with two models; the Endurance, an all-mountain ski with a 98 mm waist and the Z90, a frontside carver available in a 90 mm waist. This winter RENOUN will be selling skis at shops in Vermont and at points west. And in February, Schenk built one very special pair of skis, the “#FeeltheBern” Bernie Sanders skis. And he’s not selling them. “We figured that would be very un-Bernie so we decided to hold a contest and give them away.”
It’s now been three years since Schenk left college and he says the important thing is to never look back. “I’ve got the opportunity to bring something new to the ski industry,” he says. “I want this to be a symbol of a job well done.”
Cost: $1,000 and up. www.renoun.com.