In preparation for the impending ski season, shredders are buying new gear to hit the ‘pow-pow.’ Choices for powder hounds have opened dramatically with the boom in small, privately owned and operated, ski producers,able to crank out specialized, top-performance gear. Tahoe-Truckee is fortunate to have such a company, Praxis Skis. As the only ski manufacturer located 6,000 ft. above sea level, Praxis Skis, its employees and its riders have a unique advantage many large producers do not – mountains in their backyard.  

     In the 2005/2006 ski season, Keith O’Meara, owner and founder, began developing innovative ski designs from his garage on Donner Summit. Growing up in Vermont and now living out west, skiing has always been a part of Keith’s life. With a bachelor’s in Business Administration, and a computer science minor, Keith combines his education and passion in Praxis Skis.

     Melissa McHone, an employee of Praxis Skis, said, ‘Altitude and Attitude work hand in hand. Praxis Skis introduced rocker and re-curve to the industry, inspired by the concept of non-traditional side cut and camber walls.’

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     The introduction of these designs helped Keith gain recognition as a top-flight ski manufacturer.

     ‘His focus, attention to detail and incredible ability to visualize the end product always continue to propel him forward. He has a unique ability to couple engineering, finesse and performance together to create outstanding products,’ Melissa said.

     Praxis Skis built their name and following by focusing on powder skis, built to float through deep powder. Keith said ‘re-curve’ refers to a combination of camber and rocker, with a small amount of camber in the underfoot area, adding life to the ski while allowing more edge grip. The tip and tail are raised above the snow giving you better traverse across the surface of the snow, freeing up the catch points from grabbing variable snow, and making it easier to turn in soft snow.

     Many models in the Praxis 2009 line up use some form of modified camber, like re-curve, and for an all-around free ski it has proven to be superior. According to Keith their line up includes skis with a tip rocker, with a low camber in the rear and a rocker up front, increasing performance in powder or variable snow. Other designs include a continuous curves rocker, with no flat spot, ideal for powder conditions, also, a line of low camber skis, great for those riding groomers, harder, or skied out snow. Keith states camber makes a ski more responsive edge to edge, and quicker to initiate a turn.

     Within the last three seasons Praxis Skis has built a reputation for cutting-edge designs, and extremely durable skis, a mission for the company from the start.

     ‘These skis were developed with the interest of real everyday skiers – it’s not your typical race course, groomer, or recreational ski. Instead it’s a perspective new to the market…. skis built by skiers for skiers,’ Melissa said. ‘Praxis Skis was born making skis that would stand up to abuse and perform well in the conditions and terrain that we skied everyday.’

     Al Odt, a local skier who’s ridden local mountains since 2003, recalls the day he truly tested the durability of Praxis Skis.

     ‘I came across a huge rock with my right ski coming full speed down ‘Our Fathers,’ at Alpine Meadows, bringing me to a full stop, taking a foot-long gash out of the middle of my ski. I was able to complete the run, but when I saw the damage I was devastated,’ he said.

     Battered, and broken, Al brought the skis back into the shop. To his relief, Praxis was able to repair the damage.

     ‘The ski was still strong, they filled in the gap with PTEX, and the ski rode like nothing had ever happened. I used them the rest of the season, and still have them. I ride fairly hard, and Praxis Skis can handle the abuse,’ Al said.

     Praxis Skis relishes in the ability to work closely with skiers, and is proud to be a part of the area and community. The edge given by mountain living is distinct and undeniable.

     ‘From day one Praxis Skis motto has been ‘Handcrafted in the Sierra Nevada Mountains,’ we take that very seriously,’ Melissa said. ‘A ski company needs to be close to the lifts and back country for easy, quick, product testing or market research. Praxis Skis excels at adapting. We are able to react to market trends at a much faster pace than larger corporate companies.’

     Everyone riding Praxis Skis gets the best out of them, including two members of the U.S. and World Freeskiing Tours 2009 – Drew Tabke and Kevin O’Meara, Keith’s cousin. Working hand-in-hand with world-class athletes gives Praxis Skis the ability to remain original in its design and production.

     ‘We use their feedback and ideas to shape the skis that we offer in our line up,’ Keith said. ‘Our shop crew is made up of really great skiers, and that also helps fuel the ideas and progression of Praxis Skis.’

     All members of the Praxis Ski family stand behind their products. With a shift in market trends toward the evolution of private ski companies, Praxis Skis is looking forward to the future.

     ‘The ski industry has become quite an area of interest and progression. The good part is that more and more consumers are becoming aware of these smaller, more custom ski shops,’ Melissa said.

     In fact, Praxis skis recommend a couple Reno companies – if you can’t find what you are looking for at Praxis Skis, Melissa recommends contacting Pat at PM Gear or Casey at Moment Skis, both out of Reno and producing outstanding products.

     With small companies adding competition to the market, the greatest competition remains large ski manufacturers, who outsource work and equipment to produce skis for cheaper.

     ‘We work hard to build our skis in the U.S. while large companies outsource for half the cost. Quality is one of the most important things to us,’ Melissa said. ‘We are confident in our athletes’ input and ideas and where we are headed. So far we have continued to grow year over year and there are some exciting prospects in our future.’

     Thanks to the globalization of the market place, the groundbreaking technology and fresh designs of Praxis Skis have gained notice and popularity within the States and abroad.

     ‘The ability to harness the power of the Internet makes it more obtainable for a small company to break into the market,’ Melissa said. ‘About 50 percent of our sales are international and 50 percent domestic. We never imagined that we would ship so many skis to so many different countries.’

     Supporting the local ski manufacturer, and riding Praxis Skis for another season, Al Odt looks forward to snowfall. With his new skis ready to be mounted, Al has made a connection with his ski makers, and his skis, before using them.

     ‘It’s a more personal experience buying from a local producer like Praxis, a more one-on-one interaction. They are all very receptive to any suggestions or comments any rider has. This season I plan to ride the All-Mountain Jib, they are sweet all-around, all-mountain skis, which will still rip in the powder and on groomers,’ Al said. ‘As long as Praxis makes skis where I’m living, I will be riding their skis.’

~ This year Praxis Skis is excited to announce a partnership with Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. When you buy a season pass at Sugar Bowl, you are entered in a drawing to win a pair of FREE Praxis Powder Boards! Find full 2009 Praxis Skis line-up at Praxiskis.com, via email at info@praxisskis.com or contact Melissa McHone via phone at 530-448-9941.

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