Summer is not the season for skiing. It's the season for thousand-year heatwaves, flooding subway systems, widespread wildfire warnings and unseasonal tropical storms, if you follow the news. To abandon such realities to daydream about snowy mountain heights and knee-deep powder can feel unconventional at best and negligent at worst. But WNDR Alpine is not a conventional ski company — and it just released its newest ski, the Reason 120, which is worth a moment of reality-abandoning consideration.
Timing isn't the only peculiarity of the Reason 120. Neither is the combination of its wide 120-millimeter waist with a relatively light 4.8-pound-per-ski weight. But its Algal Core — algal as in algae, the slimy green stuff you probably associate with ponds and creeks — is.
WNDR (pronounced "wonder") is an incubator of sorts for another company called Checkerspot, a Bay Area-based technology firm that's working to develop bio-based alternatives to petroleum. To prove its concepts, it backed WNDR, theorizing that if its innovations can handle the extreme forces and temperatures that skis have to withstand, the stuff must work pretty damn well.
In the Reason 120 — and WNDR's two narrower ski models — the algae-derived polyurethane is present as high-density stringers laminated into a wood core to provide rigidity and vibration damping. The Reason also has an algae-based sidewall, and a bio-based resin called Super Sap.
All of these technologies produce a ski with a smaller carbon footprint, but part of Checkerspot and WNDR's aim is not simply to replace petroleum products but to make the alternative better. So even if you don't care about the inherent value of a ski with reduced environmental impact (shame on you — don't you realize that all those strange and extreme weather patterns in the news are all amplified by climate change and that snowy winters are an endangered species?) maybe you can see the value of a ski that's simply of greater quality. And if you do, don't wait till winter to snag a pair.