Salt Lake City ski brand demonstrates that moving away from petroleum can make our favorite outdoor products perform better
WNDR Alpine, the pioneering outdoor brand launched as part of advanced materials company Checkerspot, unveiled its new ski lineup today, complete with improved material properties, increased biobased content, and a new, powder-focused backcountry shape: the Reason 120.
WNDR Alpine’s innovation lies in cutting-edge product design merged with advanced materials created through biotechnology. Using industrial scale biomanufacturing techniques and materials science, Checkerspot grows microalgae to produce renewable, biobased oils, which it uses to design materials to deliver against the unique performance demands of backcountry athletes.
New for the 21/22 season is the Reason 120, which WNDR Alpine positions as its most powder-oriented ski yet. With a 120mm waist, heavily rockered tips and tails, and a 20m turn radius, the ski is engineered to provide effortless buoyancy and response in soft snow. The performance offered by the ski’s unique shape is amplified by an increased proportion of performance-focused biobased materials in the ski’s layup.
“As soon as I joined Checkerspot, I always knew I wanted to create a ski like this. Although it may look like a one trick pony to the uninitiated, I have personally been amazed by the capability enabled by the materials in the ski, whether it’s a deep powder day or not. So I’m incredibly proud to unveil a ski that I’ll be skiing day-in, day-out through the middle of winter.”
– Pep Fujas, professional skier and WNDR Alpine’s VP of Marketing and Product Development
Like WNDR Alpine’s Vital 100 and Intention 110 skis, the Reason features the brand’s proprietary Algal Core, a composite of domestically sourced aspen and high-density algal foam, which improves torsional stiffness and strength to weight ratio throughout the ski.
For the 21/22 season, the Reason, Vital, and Intention feature WNDR Alpine’s updated Algal Wall, a new biobased polyurethane sidewall formulation designed to provide increased performance over traditional materials when incorporated into a backcountry ski. Key innovations include:
- Over twice the vibration absorption (damping) capabilities than traditional petroleum-based ski sidewall materials, including ABS and petroleum-based PU.
- A liquid casting process during fabrication, which results in almost no excess material waste going to the landfill.
- Significantly better durability under impact than the original 20/21 Algal Wall formulation.
- An increase from 58.41% to 67.89% total biobased content.
“The 21/22 Algal Wall is a big step forward in our mission to optimize our materials for greater ski performance and longevity, while simultaneously reducing our products’ reliance on petroleum inputs. It’s also a great proof point that shows what you can do when you have the capability to prototype and iterate rapidly under one roof. With biologists, polymer scientists, engineers, product designers, and athletes all working together on the same project, you can make rapid improvements to the materials used in your products year over year.”
– Dr. Charles Rand, Checkerspot’s Manager of Material Science and Applications Development
“The best part for me is that we have the opportunity to control the properties to meet the high demands of ski performance, which is virtually impossible when you are grabbing off the shelf materials. The Reason 120 has not only allowed our biobased materials to shine, but has taught us a lot about how to utilize them, and of course, share them with others across product categories and industries. Having multiple formulations with different properties showcases the flexibility of the Checkerspot platform. This journey has just begun!”
– WNDR Alpine’s founder and Checkerspot’s GM of Wintersports Matt Sterbenz