Cover photo courtesy of Daniel Rönnbäck
Last time we had a proper chat with Logan Imlach, he signed off by telling us that he was transitioning away from filming ski parts to work towards landing a job designing skis. Since then he's succeeded and better yet, works for one of the industry leaders: Armada Skis. The Anchorage, Alaska native is a seasoned veteran of the ski industry to say the least. Over the years he has won Superunknown, filmed multiple segments with Level 1 and now works as the Hardgoods Development Engineer for Armada Skis. Long story short, he's an accomplished skier designing skis for fellow skiers.
Few renowned skiers have been so involved at such a high level on both sides of the gear development equation, by which I mean both the development and use of skis to such a high level . Sure, one can coordinate an on-snow test and gain valuable knowledge, but it's really the guys who are pushing the boundaries of skiing who can redefine what a ski needs to be. And Logan, who often filmed in the streets, is no stranger to beating up a pair of skis. Thus, these double-dipping skiers can prove to be a priceless asset to a ski company. And rare as they come, Eric Pollard and Pep Fujas are other great examples, they’re working at some of the biggest brands with a chance to revolutionize skiing.
So how did Logan get to where he is? Before testing his wits at making skis, Logan was exposed to basic carpentry skills while building houses in college. He'd always curious about how things are built or how they work on the inside, studying civil engineering was just the nail in the coffin. Combining technical skills with an experimental nature and a passion for skiing meant ski building was the next logical step. “Even when I was riding for Moment I’d draw up these ski ideas and send them in to them (none of them ever got made, they were all pretty weird) and when they were forced to cut me I just decided that I’d try and make skis by myself. I read every single thread on the SkiBuilders.com forum and just kind of figured it out from there. I had all the basic tools (router, table saw, air compressor, jig saw, etc) so I really just had to get a means of pressing them, I decided vacuum because of my space restrictions, and a shit load of hand clamps. I made myself a production schedule and in my first 3 weeks off from work (I worked rotationally in the oil fields in Alaska, 3 weeks off 3 weeks on) I made my factory, then in the next 3 I pressed 8 pairs of skis. After that experience I exhausted every single contact I had made in the ski industry trying to get a job making skis. I think I must have emailed Josh Malczyk every couple weeks asking if there was any openings yet. Then I got hooked up with OC and Hans and here we are.
So what does being a Hardgoods Development Engineer entail you wonder? It's a fairly technical title for the ski industry, one that actually seems to ring pretty true to its name. Logan breaks it down as essentially being a “two headed beast” over the past year and a half he’s been with Armada. On one end, he explains, “I’m in charge of developing new shapes and technologies that go in to our skis. That means CAD design, working with our stacked team, material procurement, then actually making prototypes.” Before we can delve into the other side of the role, it must first be explained that before he came along, Armada's 'Factory' was an empty building, a pipe dream. Logan was tasked with the end goal of creating a space to both prototype skis and eventually produce 500-1,000 skis annually. The road ahead was looking bumpy, but believe it or not, some people in the ski industry actually do work! “I mean it’s not like there’s a textbook or a class you can take on ski manufacturing or building a ski factory. There were weeks where I felt like I was spinning my wheels and not getting shit done. But alas, I’ve got a half decent process going now, and in the past 3 months I’ve actually gotten to prototype some new skis and new technologies, then go ski them, come back and refine them. I think I’ve got some really cool things coming down the pipe for 18/19.”
Being the skier that he is allows him to go ski the new prototypes he's working on and give them a thorough testing, which is fuckin’ awesome. How many people get to say they just built a new ski, took it out for a few laps, figured out what they liked and didn’t, worked out the kinks, and oh yea, it’s for sale in 2 years. Naturally, I was intrigued by this process and wondered if Logan believed his experience as a pro skier has given him a leg up in ski design. He stated, “Yeah I think so, having spent so much time on skis has really given me the ability to critically think about what a ski is doing.” Though to my surprise (probably because I have no knowledge whatsoever when it comes to building skis), he really credits his success to his mentors at Armada, Hans Smith and Andy Hytjan. “I came in with all these ideas thinking that I knew so much and ran in to Hans Smith and Andy Hytjan, who combined have like 25 years’ experience in ski design, and they were so patient with me and taught me so much. Now I think we have a great thing going where I can have these wild ass ideas, and they support me and help mold those ideas in to something that we can actually produce.”
On top of all this, Logan is just a genuinely good dude. Having come to realise everything skiing has given him, he feeds even more good vibes right back into the flow. As one of the more outspoken skiers over the years, he says what needs to be said and does what needs to be done. So when it came time that a more than a few Newschoolers members found out they would not be receiving their new skis anytime soon and were essentially left in the dark, it was none other than Logan who stepped up to the plate. Here’s how he explains the whole ordeal, “I was just keeping tabs on that thread and was so upset that these kids were basically getting fucked out of their money. I mean Midwest kids only have a month or so left in their season and I can just picture how bummed I would have been. At the end of the day I’m just another member of Newschoolers and I have so much love for this community, so giving some fellow members some skis that I had laying around to finish their season was the least that I could do. I wish I could have sent more. Haha, one of the kids actually got to warranty the sample BDogs I had sent him and got a brand new pair. Sounds like they are starting to send kids their skis, but I am just so fucking mad at the level of disrespect and apathy that they showed all of those preorders. All it takes is a little bit of proactivity and some email updates and all of that could have been avoided. I know how hard running a ski company is and it takes a lot for me to badmouth anyone who tries to do so, but this situation was totally avoidable and inexplicably lazy, so they will get theirs. We operate in a very small community.” Luckily, out of bad came some good and one of the most beautiful aspects of skiing was showcased in light of this situation. There are few sports where the greats not only have this special opportunity to step down off the pedestal, but will also gladly take the time out of their day to offer a helping hand simply because of a common love for that feeling skiing provides.
So kudos to you Logan, we're excited to see what comes from your work with Armada. Due to building complications, Armada’s ski factory is changing locations and will be following Logan along for the ride. His next challenge is building a ski factory in the confines of a 40’ shipping container. Good luck bud!