Atomic offers Grateful Dead branded ski gear for 2019-20 season

Gear features artwork from Atomic pro athlete Chris Benchetler

Tricia Swenson
Vail Daily

Typically skis are chosen based on performance and not for the graphics, but that philosophy could change if you are a skier and also a Grateful Dead fan. Atomic collaborated with the Grateful Dead on a new ski design for the 2019-20 season.

Atomic took their already popular powder ski, the Bent Chetler, named after Atomic’s pro athlete Chris Benchetler and used Benchetler’s artwork on a new, very limited-edition top sheet graphic.

The Grateful Dead’s licensing team took their time going through all the proper channels to make this collaboration happen, and the execs at Atomic needed a little bit of convincing at first. The Grateful Dead is not as popular in Austria, where Atomic is based.

“But it didn’t take them long to realize what a great collaboration this was and how big it could be,” Benchetler said.

The all-wood, laser-engraved top sheet showcases the artwork from Benchetler with the signature Grateful Dead bear graphics, a skeleton with roses and Benchetler’s van, which he calls The Stealthy Marmot.

On the bottom of the skis, there is more artwork from Benchetler and fellow artist, Skye Walker.

“Skye and I have worked together on several murals and we took one of those designs and used it for the bottom of the skis. Grateful Dead music is all about improvisation, no show was ever the same,” Benchetler said. “That’s what I think about skiing, no line is ever the same. Each day is different, and we used that line theme throughout the artwork in this collaboration.”

The collaboration goes beyond the Bent Chetler skis. Dakine will offer Grateful Dead branding on a few of their backpacks and one style of mittens. The extreme sports media company, Teton Gravity Research, will help fuel the collaboration between its film star Benchetler and the new Atomic skis by showcasing pop-up events, musical experiences and a feature film set to come out in September 2019.

For those who do want to know about the technical side of the 2019-20 Bent Chetler skis, they feature Atomic’s HRZN Tech Rocker, which adds 10 percent more surface area to the tip and tail.

“There’s only about 300 of them being made,” Benchetler said. So don’t expect to see them in the ski shops for very long.


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