Rising above. It’s never easy, especially in a competitive world where the standards are quickly evolving. For years, G3’s president, Oliver Steffen, has been keeping a close eye on the changing demands of backcountry skis. Genuine Guide Gear has focused on building the best skis possible for those who search out the wild snow. We got him to offer some perspective on how they approach making skis.
What are the virtues of a good AT and Tele ski?
A good AT/Tele ski has the basic characteristics: forgiving, light, durable and responsive. A really good AT/Tele ski has the additional qualities of confidence, calming and fun. If you get a chance to try a lot different skis, and you find yourself smiling on a particular model, that’s probably the ski for you.
What is G3's approach to making skis? How has it evolved?
We make skis that have all of the basic characteristics I mention above, as do a couple of the other brands, but we spend a lot of time trying to find those special attributes that talk to people, appeal to their sense of quality and fun. Our basic approach hasn’t changed very much from our days with Paul Parker, and then with Francois Sylvain, and lately our own internal designs. We’re looking for ski designs that resonate with us in all conditions.
What materials are you searching out, and why?
Many materials are reliable standards, and others are changing more frequently, depending on the characteristics desired. Our Palownia wood cores are absolutely strong and light, and have some very nice properties that make for really good skis. As well, Palownia is a very fast growing renewable crop that is often used in soil remediation areas. It’s a very responsible source for wood cores. We also use Poplar for its durability, strength and good ski construction properties.
Each material is chosen based on how it contributes to the performance of the skis and the cost is often secondary. We aren’t known for the cheapest skis, largely because we don’t make the cheapest skis. You get what you pay for in skis as in everything else.
With all the boutique ski manufacturers popping up, what does that mean to an established ski company in terms of innovation?
There are certainly a lot of very small ski brands popping up. We’re in a bit of a cycle, and I’m sure some of the brands will pack their bags while others that offer real innovation and value may prosper. Our innovations will continue—as always—while we continue to focus on a high value product made exceedingly well. We might not make the most skis, but we certainly make some of the best quality skis available.
G3 has been conducting the “Design Your Own Top Sheet” contest for a few years. What’s been the response?
The G3 Skigraphiks Contest has been a very big success with a tremendous response. I don’t think anyone knew about the depth and breadth of the online ski design community. We certainly tapped in to a vibrant community and made custom ski design available to almost anyone. I don’t think it’s appreciated that G3 brought true custom/DIY ski graphics to full production quality ski manufacturing. Nowhere else can you have your own custom ski graphics on a full production quality ski. There are now a few imitators but they still haven’t offered the same product that we do.
G3 has been making quality backcountry skis (sidecountry too) for years now, is there any desire to start producing resort-specific skis?
G3 has a deep heritage as a backcountry brand and we’re known for our innovative products in the backcountry, for sure. The irony is that our skis have been used “in bounds” by those in the know right from day one in our ski program. There are a lot of G3 skis out there that have spent a lot of days inbounds for a reason.
What is your go to ski and why?
The Tonic 177 is my current go to ski. These days I spend my ski days either touring before work, teaching my daughters to ski, or taking a few relaxing runs at the hill with friends, and the Tonic does it all exceedingly well.