They glisten. They gleam. They go fast in the snow. Specialty sleds, crafted in exotic woods, and custom skis, tailored for the growing...
SILVERTON, Colo. — They glisten. They gleam. They go fast in the snow.
Specialty sleds, crafted in exotic woods, and custom skis, tailored for the growing number of telemark skiers, come out of the Silverton workshops of two companies that market the image of the southwest Colorado mountain town.
Started with employees who could be counted on one’s fingers, both Mountain Boy Sledworks and ScottyBob’s Handcrafted Skis have thrived. Demand for their elite, nostalgic toys is so high that both have begun to manufacture some of their lines in China.
“These sleds are retro. They are the eddy against the tide of all that is slick, digital and electronic,” said Brice Hoskin, whose business card reads simply “Sledmaker.”
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Despite the straightforward title, Hoskin is founder and president of Mountain Boy Sledworks. Patents are pending on his unique designs, which meld traditional runners with the smooth underside of a plastic saucer designed to glide down a slope, he said.
The company itself is soaring, with two years of tenfold growth, propelled by its signature, steerable $400 wooden sleds in burnished cherry, oak, birch and other woods that ripple with character. The sleds appeal to winter-sports enthusiasts and indulgent grandmas with a sense of nostalgia for the Flexible Flyers of their youth.
“Very few people want to spend $800 on a sled,” Hoskin said. “But $400 came out as the right price.”
The appeal is broadening, with Mountain Boy sleds included for the first time this holiday season in the L.L. Bean catalog.
A few doors down on Silverton’s main drag, ScottyBob Carlson, a refugee from Summit County, and David Mazzarella, a one-time Denver lawyer, are co-founders of the company that carries Carlson’s name.
Starting out in a spare bedroom in Mazzarella’s Denver home, the pair arrived in Silverton just over two years ago.
“Silverton identifies us with mountains and snow,” Carlson said. “But it was just dumb luck that we landed here.”
Their distinctive bobtail skis, priced beginning at $700, have a cult following among telemark skiers, who follow their sport on Web sites and in publications, he said.
“Even if it’s a poor person who’s fanatical about skiing, they max out their credit cards to get our skis,” Carlson said.
Like the sleds, the skis are worthy of being displayed as art.
Both companies offer their China-made products for less than those produced in Silverton: Sleds from overseas begin at $100 and skis at $550.
Hoskin said he plans to move into manufacturing both lower- and higher-priced sleds, while introducing a line of wooden wagons.
Carlson said ScottyBob still “has tricks up our sleeves,” but details are as private as the company’s production numbers.
“I would really like to be doing absolutely nothing in life,” Carlson said. “But this is a fun ride.”