On October 15th, Chris Prior, the owner and founder of Prior died. A professional windsurfer, turned snowboard and ski shaper extraordinaire, who believed in the 20cm rule, and enforced it in his Function Junction ” manufactory”. Chris took his experience shaping windsurf boards, and brought it to the custom snowboard industry, shaping boards for the alpine race scene, freeride, and eventually split boards, the latter honed by days of research and development in the Coastal range near Whistler.
The company began back in 1990, in North Vancouver, in a garage, and pretty soon was building decks for other manufacturers. Then Mark Fawcett, a Canadian Olympic snowboard racer, ordered a custom ride from Prior. Once the rest of the field saw how this board performed, and how quickly the company could deliver, the orders came thick and fast. in 200 the company moved to Whistler, and began producing splitboards. In 2002 they started building skis.
Whilst most people know Prior for their spiltboards, Prior skis have been increasingly showing up on the feet of ski patrollers, and guides, as well as other backcountry ski enthusiasts. Mostly in British Columbia, it must be said, but it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see a Prior ski at most North American resorts.
The thing about these small semi-custom ski manufacturers is not their exclusivity, it is their connection to the core of the sport, which then builds a community around them. That community, unfortunately, usually has lost some people from it, just by the nature of what we do in the mountains. No one ever expects it to be the hub around which that community is built. A leader in the field, and a western Canadian ski and snowboard industry legend is gone. Our condolences go to those within the tight Prior core community, and to Chris Prior’s family.