Gear Review | AspenTimes.com

Gear Review

Kelly J. Hayes

What is the price of nirvana?

Well, if you define nirvana as a handmade pair of skis from Switzerland constructed from state-of-the-art, high-tech materials, with Italian bindings and a brown ash streamer down the center, then nirvana costs a cool $3,000. But don’t sweat it; they also throw in carbon-fiber poles and a bulletproof carrying case to help protect your investment.Welcome to the world of Zai, a new ski that is lovingly manufactured, by hand, in the town of Disentis, Switzerland, and sold in Aspen at Gorsuch, the only retailer in America where one can purchase, um, nirvana.Zai, for those who don’t speak Rhaeto-Romanic (the fourth and most obscure of the languages spoken in Switzerland), means “tough and tenacious” and that describes the determination of their creator, Simon Jacomet.

Jacomet was in Aspen earlier this month to debut Zais for potential purchasers and made a very good impression indeed. A demo at the Aspen Mountain Club was followed by some individual introductions to luminaries like Marc Forester, who after directing the film “Finding Neverland” knows a little something about nirvana. Turns out the German-born auteur is a pretty good skier as well, and may one day boast a pair of Zais in his quiver.Anyway, Zais are the real deal, even if the leather-bound book that serves as a promotional vehicle looks more like a travel guide than a ski brochure. Zais feature a “sidewall construction in a sandwich manner” according to Jacomet, which is a refinement from the typical cap-ski construction. During his tenure as a designer for Völkl and Salomon, Jacomet determined that the best way to build the best ski was to marry handcrafted artistry with highly technical materials to produce “an instrument that will work with the snow, the mountain and the skier to produce the perfect carving and gliding experience.”

There are four different Zai skis, ranging from 150 cm to 180 cm. All look exactly the same, but each feels slightly different underfoot. Only 700 were made this past season so you won’t have any trouble finding yours outside of Bonnie’s.But are they worth it? That depends on your personal definition of nirvana.Check out http://www.zai.ch for information.


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