Sebastian Strobl, simply called ‘Sebi’ by everyone in the Austrian village of Ladis, creates exceptional skis. “I no longer wanted to simply operate machines and use cheap materials from China. Today you can manufacture an all-round carving ski completely out of plastic. However, there is no topping the quality of wood. It retains the tension better and is more durable than plastic.” After completing his apprenticeship as a ski developer, the 28-year-old returns to his family’s traditions and begins making skis by hand again. Sebi finds the raw materials he needs right behind the house. A neighboring sawmill provides the rough-cut stone pine. “The stone pine is a typical type of tree in Tirol’s mountains. Its wood is especially durable and capable of withstanding cold and frost – the perfect pre-requisites for wooden skis. Nevertheless, no other manufacturer used stone pine before me”, explains Sebi.
Using circular saws, a planar and a press which he made himself, Sebi goes to work in a rustic joinery in his home village. He spends a long time refining the perfect wooden core which makes the ski easy to steer while remaining strong. Then he uses a computer-controlled milling machine to give the stone pine the ideal shape. The wooden core is reinforced using materials otherwise found in professional skiing: high-quality aluminum, carbon and fiberglass are also milled, glued and bonded with the wooden base in a 12-hour pressing process. Sebi does not entirely forego the benefits of state-of-the-art ski technology. Yet he succeeds in creating the perfect fusion with classic ski making craftsmanship.
Every pair of skis is the product of 40 hours of manual work. “My original pair of stone pine skis just rocked the first time I used them and the skiing instructors from Ladis all had a huge smile on the face after taking them out for a test run”, reminisces Sebi. And that was how his start-up found its name: “ZiarmRocker”, a mixture of Tyrol’s dialect for stone pine and the “rocker shape” renowned in professional skiing. The front and, generally, rear ends of the skis are strongly rounded and curve upward slightly. This reduces the surface area in contact with the snow, allowing the skiers to turn tighter curves and providing more drive when skiing on powder. In other words: The skis rock! Sebi adapts every pair of skis to the customer’s weight, height and skill to provide the perfect skiing experience. These one-of-a-kind skis have their price: A pair of “ZiarmRockers” costs between 1,600 and 5,000 euros. Yet despite the great demand, Sebastian Strobl has no intention of going into mass production. “I make a maximum of 18 pairs of skis a year. I have to enjoy the work and I need all of my passion to do that. This is why I need time for myself and the mountains: to go skiing, climbing or paragliding.”