Ski trip you say? Alpaca my bags! The snowsports entrepreneur series continues with Alex Fleming, founder and technical designer of Fauna Skis. Skiing and competing became a hugely influential part of his life when he joined the Edinburgh University Snowsports Club. Drawing on his experience in the park, on powder and across the pistes of Scotland and Europe, he has channelled his expertise to create a striking range of skis. How many other planks do you see with fantastic beasts on them? I wanted to find out more…
(SM) Tell me about your experience in your University snowsports club
“The Edinburgh Uni Snowsports Club (EUSSC) is where my passion for freestyle and skiing was really ignited. I could just about parallel turn going into university, but with so many opportunities available to go skiing, that quickly changed. Although it's where I properly got into skiing, it wouldn't have been the same if it weren't for the committee, the club members and all the people I met along the way.”
Did your course influence your venture into ski design or the other way around?
“To be honest, neither! It's not really a normal path to do a physics degree and then go into ski design. It was much more to do with the ski community I found through University that inspired me to get into the ski industry. I have an innate interest in how things work and so when I was introduced to the workings of skis through EUSSC, it was natural for me to seek out more knowledge. I used it as an opportunity to make the ski community a major part of my life by getting into ski design.”
What was the research process like for Fauna Skis?
“Apart from keeping an eye on the developments in the ski industry, most of my research has been through my own experience. The design decisions I've made have been based on my own time skiing on a variety of skis and terrain and the experience of friends and others around me. Through this I created designs which myself and others tested and then changed based on how the skis have performed. When so much of skiing is about how the skis feel under your feet, you can only take theory so far until you need to just get out there and put your ideas to the test!”
What inspired your choice of wooden veneers and animal designs?
“There is such a vast array of skis on the market and I didn't want Fauna Skis to just end up as just another ski brand on the shelf. So I found a way to durably use wood veneers (as a bit of a nod to traditional wooden skis) and combined that with laser-cut animal graphics drawn by my tattoo artist friends. I found it created a stand-out beautiful result.”
You used to compete in freestyle events, has that experience contributed to the composition of your designs?
“Definitely. My past in freestyle competitions and more recently competing in freeride events has given me some great insights. When you’re competing you push yourself and your gear to the limit. By knowing and pushing those limits, I focussed on putting high performance materials into the skis so that they won't hold riders back from skiing their best.”
What do you think are the most significant features which make your skis stand out in a busy marketplace?
“Both the performance and the aesthetics will make Fauna Skis stand out in the market. I've put a lot of effort into addressing common gripes with freestyle and freeride skis, like core shots, cracked edges, tiring out of flex and instability at speed and weight. This means using thicker bases and edges, varied combinations of carbon and fibreglass reinforcement and also using new superlight cores in the freeride models. Finishing the skis with lasered wood veneers is something that has only been touched on by ski brands and so always turns heads and attracts compliments.”