What Are Factory Blems?

Precision built in Salt Lake City and shipped directly to you. Rocky Mountains, CO. Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)

What’s the exact recipe for a WNDR Alpine ski or board? It’s impossible to sum up in a few words, but we’ll give it a shot anyway. It’s a combination of handmade precision, purpose-built components derived from biotechnology, and a healthy helping of data-driven testing, iteration, and refinement from an in-house materials science team. 

In this process, we adhere to strict, self-imposed standards of what makes it into our community’s hands. Approximately 90% of skis are deemed A grades, meaning that they come off our Salt Lake City production floor with perfect edge and graphic alignment, seamless construction, and a meticulous edge tune. 

Another 3% of skis that come out of our Design Lab are “kills.” These skis don’t go directly to the mountains, as they emerge with some kind of damage that makes the ski inappropriate for riding. While their name is a bit grim, these discarded skis live on in our R&D process, by providing us with crucial lab testing data and by providing an opportunity to become experimental new material inputs. We like to think of it as a form of material reincarnation.

Waste doesn't have to be wasteful. Ski building scraps may be recycled into ski stands, and kills may be used for materials science R&D. We'll meet again in ski valhalla! Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Xan Marshland (@xanmarshland)

Finally, there’s a small number of skis that we call B grades, birthmark skis, or blems. These skis offer the same durability, performance, and grin-inducing potential as our A grades, but feature some kind of miniscule cosmetic blemish, such as an irregularity in the sidewall’s polyurethane, minor damage to the topsheet, or small nick from finishing. Most of the time, you won’t even notice a B grade’s birthmark unless it’s pointed out to you. 

Since their performance is unaffected, our birthmark skis get a small discount and still get the same warranty and “Love It or Return It” guarantee that comes with every other ski in our webstore. 

A minor topsheet blemish and a healthy discount. Could these Vital 100s be yours? Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Xan Marshland (@xanmarshland)

Are Blems for You?

If you’re on a budget or simply looking for a great deal, a birthmark ski or board could be a perfect fit. Moreover, it’s a great way to support an R&D and fabrication process that boosts performance and gives consideration to our waste stream simultaneously.