While the other companies mentioned here fabricate their products in Quebec or Maine, Vin Faraci can claim his WhiteRoom skis are 100-percent made in Vermont, from the wood cores to the topsheets. Faraci works full-time as an physical therapist at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Vt., but spends his evenings pressing skis for the discerning skier looking for a truly one-of-a-kind ski. (To see how Faraci makes his skis, see “In the White Room”)
Pressing skis started as a hobby for Faraci, who started designing and building his own press in 2007 and gradually accumulated the tools and parts he needed. Like so many other hobbies that quickly grow out of control, he needed a place to put it and so moved his operation, which he titled WhiteRoom, to his workshop behind his house in Hyde Park.
He admits his first pair of skis, pressed in early 2010, was less than satisfying.
“Compared to what I build now, they were a disaster,” he says. “I think I put them in the press tip and tail reversed, the base wasn’t flat and the edges were wavy, but they skied great. They were a little too soft, but for a first effort they weren’t bad.”
In the five years since, Faraci’s technique has improved—a lot. Designs feature intricate inlays of abalone shells, exotic woods and metals to create snowflakes, maple leaves, daggers and even the silhouette of Mount Mansfield. Scrolling through a gallery of Faraci’s portfolio, they look less like something you’d see in the lift line, than something you’d see hanging in an art gallery.
But Faraci is quick to assure that his skis are up to the task: “Most of my customers want a powder or a freeride ski,” he says. “I really start customizing based on what the customer wants.”
Ordering a pair of WhiteRoom skis is more than picking a pair off the rack and picking a length. With Faraci and WhiteRoom, it requires input throughout the design process. Customers fill out a questionnaire with the skier’s height, weight and skiing style as well as the desired turning radius, preference of camber versus rocker, intended use and conditions.
Faraci uses the questionnaire as the basis for creating a series of prototypes that the customer critiques. When the customer is satisfied, he presses the pair right there in his shop.
The result: A pair of skis unlike anything else on the mountain.
Last year, Faraci pressed and sold 12 pairs of skis, a satisfying number, he says, as the project is only his part-time business. In the future, he hopes to build 20 pairs a year.
“I am WhiteRoom Skis and I do this because I enjoy it,” he says. “I like the hands-on work. I love skiing and the process of building a ski, it’s relaxing and fun to me.” Cost: $925 www.whiteroomcustomskis.com.