Inhabitants of the small town of Disentis, in the Swiss canton of Grisons, still mainly communicate in the Romansh language—a Roman dialect that has survived here over centuries. This is mainly because this part of Switzerland had remained rather untouched, due to being a little cut off from the rest of the world (even for Swiss standards). In fact, the name Desentis derives from Desertinas (deserted), but yet it's the birth place of the most innovative skis that the world has seen for many decades: the ZAI skis.
They're the brain child of passionate skier and "son of the mountains" Simon Jacomet, whose main objective for designing these skis was to "create a tool which enables people to ski easier and have more fun—to forget about the skis and just be creative themselves in the snow." Educated in the local Disentis ministry by abbots, he developed this rather Zen design approach of "constructing a ski that is doing the skiing itself."Rather fitting to this approach, one of the ZAI ski models has a core made of stone, sourced from local mountains (Rofna-Porphyr gneiss, to be precise). Zai's research led to the development of carbon fibre stone (CFS)—created by wrapping stone in a special carbon fibre laminate, making it not only pressure-resistant but also flexible.
On a recent trip to Switzerland I had the great pleasure to meet Simon and gain some insight into the production of the ZAI skis. The outcome is this photo gallery. Enjoy.
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