HG Skis occupied a massive niche in the East Coast ski scene. They were the only park oriented, rider-owned ski company that devoted all of their efforts to documenting and supporting East Coast skiing. They gracefully filled the spot that STEPT had occupied in the film scene, and made some really high-quality skis. What I'm left wondering is: what would a viable East Coast ski company look like? Below are a few of my thoughts.
1) Park skis need to cost between $400 and $600. The East Coast ski scene is dominated by highschoolers who have yet to spread their wings and fly to the greener pastures of the intermountain west for college, and they probably aren't buying their own skis. Their parents aren't going to spend twice as much on skis just because “Mom, they're super core and put out the best ski movies.” If they're the same price, Mom and Dad won't care or know the difference, but the young skier certainly will. When a small rider-owned company that puts out A+ content sells their skis for the same price as the big guys, the skis sure to sell.
2) All small ski companies need to be putting out their own, original content. HG knew this, Vishnu knows this, ON3P knows this. When you buy skis from a company that is putting out their own content, you know your money is going towards making more of that content. And without full length Meathead movies, STEPT, or HG, who is documenting East Coast skiing? East Coast skiers want and need to see East Coast skiing, because as cool as it is to see someone bounce down BC pillows or shred Mammoth Unbound in late May, those are pure fantasies to people who are skidding down ice and death-cookies to get to a park that hasn't been maintained for days...or weeks.
3) What type of skis should an East Coast company make? This one kind of stumps me. Cambered, more traditionally shaped skis are ideal for skiing on ice, which is what HG made. The problem is that pretty much every large ski company makes a park ski like that and they sell it for wicked cheap. Vishnu, ON3P, Moment, 4Frnt and RMU all make very unique skis that larger companies simply don't make. However, they're all skis that are really at home in the soft snow conditions that exist in the mountains outside of the cities that those companies are based out of. HG definitely made skis designed for the East, but that ends up looking pretty similar to the traditionally-shaped park skis that have dominated the market for years. How do you make a splash in the industry by making something so familiar?
4) Handmade or outsourced? I think a model like 4Frnt, who make a few limited run skis by hand but outsource most of their production, would make the most sense for an East Coast company. As I said earlier, a park ski marketed to an Eastern market needs to be cheap. Cheap skis come from a big factory. However, there is definitely a growing demographic of East Coast weekend warriors who venture into the backcountry. The move across the industry has been to cater to this type of skier, and for good reason: they actually have money. I think touring skis handmade on the East Coast is something that a lot of people would find appealing. The cities of the East Coast are jammed full of bougie startup breweries, apparel companies, food producers, restaurants, etc. It might be tricky to balance the image of being both a grungy street skiing and a bougie ski-touring company, but it's far from impossible.
I'm sure many of the points I've made here have occurred to the owners of HG and they have very good reasons for not acting on them. But it's summer and I'm bored and also concerned that there is an impeding dearth of quality East Coast content. Also I like to think and write about skiing. If you've made it this far thanks for reading.