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  1. #1
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    Introducing WNDR Alpine

    Whats up TGR? Matt Sterbenz here. Iíve been thinking of you lately, largely from the time I dropped the news of the White Room and the debut of the Renegade, and more recently when I sold 4FRNT. Itís been a while now so I thought I should write in again, but this time under a new name, WNDR Alpine.

    So as some of you know, about a year ago, I left my post at 4FRNT to join a materials company called Checkerspot, who specializes in biotechnology, to head up fabrication efforts with new materials derived from algae. Iím opening this thread up to shed a little light on my journey since I last wrote and what it means for my future, and skiing as a whole.

    As those of you who are close in the industry are well aware, the diversity of raw materials available to ski builders is typically very limited. Everyone has access to roughly the same suppliers and largely the same limitations of what materials each of those suppliers have to offer. This limitation over the years made me hungry for new materials Ė ones that were responsibly designed to boost performance when integrated into a ski.

    When I learned about Checkerspotís science platform, I started to get really excited. The root of the technology is leveraging the natural oils derived from microalgae as a way to elevate performance over the current material standards that petroleum offers. The limitations of traditional material suppliers made Checkerspotís capabilities all the more interesting to me, as these materials can be engineered from the ground up to produce novel performance characteristics for specific applications. I was so intrigued I couldnít resist. So I decided to join forces with them and we immediately began building out a Design Lab in SLC to start prototyping these materials into better products.

    With our HQ lab in Berkeley producing the oils, and now a home in the mountains for fabrication, we began testing how the existing materials Checkerspot created would react in ski design. For the first time in my career, I had the opportunity to isolate materials and test their characteristics in a form no longer than my index finger. From there we tooled up and by January we had prototype skis to prove the formulations performed in the field. We felt they worked so well, and that the Design Lab was already so close to being able to run serial production, that we decided to launch a new brand, proving the function of our technologies first hand, in our own skis, sold direct to skier.

    So a few weeks ago, we launched WNDR Alpine - a new outdoor brand that utilizes a new technology to take product performance in our industry to new heights. Our first product is the Intention 110 Ė a balanced backcountry ski that incorporates a high density algae composite in its core which has torsional stiffness and strength to weight benefits for superior performance on descents and up the skin track.

    I just did a fun interview with Max Ritter, up on TGR right now. For those curious about what weíre doing, itís a great place to start, and I'm happy to continue the discussion here on the TGR forum. Stoked to be able to share the news and even more so to see our skis at trailheads this upcoming season!

    Keep your tips up,

    Matt

  2. #2
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    congrats- good stuff
    I've always been an ehp/hoji lover so I look fwd to checking some of these out. Is the Intention considered the "winter" model?

    The concept of the cellular structure of the algae dampening sounds really interesting. it makes sense that the incumbents would stick to the status quo on materials given tight margins
    Can you give us some sense of the input costs on the algae core vs carbon? just curious bc I imagine it could be way better, but maybe not given the complexity and also a newer technology

    randomly curious- but did you start with Checkerspot w/ this product end mkt in mind? Or were you trying to switch industries and got sucked back into ski production after this idea? lol

    also love the recycling/reuse program
    skid luxury

  3. #3
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    Really freaking cool. I would like to get my hands on a reverse camber pair in 185. They look great!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-bear View Post
    randomly curious- but did you start with Checkerspot w/ this product end mkt in mind? Or were you trying to switch industries and got sucked back into ski production after this idea? lol
    I had the same question.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-bear View Post
    congrats- good stuff
    I've always been an ehp/hoji lover so I look fwd to checking some of these out. Is the Intention considered the "winter" model?

    The concept of the cellular structure of the algae dampening sounds really interesting. it makes sense that the incumbents would stick to the status quo on materials given tight margins
    Can you give us some sense of the input costs on the algae core vs carbon? just curious bc I imagine it could be way better, but maybe not given the complexity and also a newer technology

    randomly curious- but did you start with Checkerspot w/ this product end mkt in mind? Or were you trying to switch industries and got sucked back into ski production after this idea? lol

    also love the recycling/reuse program
    Yo Bear thanks for the questions and perspective.

    I would consider the Intention 110 to be more the "Fall" model once we get the other two shapes done due to early season snowpack varies a lot in depth and density. That said, I ski'd the 110 starting in January through May and actually really enjoyed the deeper face shots and spring corn cruise ability. I prefer a bigger ski mid season as I'm usually in search of deep and dry powder for longer runs and then come spring when the technical terrain locks up I like a more maneuverable, narrower shape.

    Our current input costs are much higher, largely because we are creating a completely new material from a new origin. However, once we begin to produce more of the algae derived material, costs will come down so we're optimistic over time the scale will be more balanced than it is now.

    I joined Checkerspot with the title GM of Wintersports so I would remain engaged in my life long love affair with skiing in some way. Of course the first few months were very exploratory. I focused on setting up a "Design Lab" in SLC where we would have the resources to animate the physicality, as everything back in Berkeley is molecular research and testing materials at a super small scale. Once we got a spot, we started to identify a team of local suppliers with experience casting polyurethanes as well engineers. A lot of those relationships carried over but some have been completely all new.

    By December we wanted to begin laminating and then on-snow testing to follow after the holidays. By February I was already on version 5, enjoying our "prototype" so much so that I became convinced that after a few more tweaks we should just make our own skis. So we decided to build a brand to drive the technology and story forward, as the lack of evidence of our technology wasn't very conducive to setting up partnerships. Along the way we've identified several polyurethane applications in skis and snowboards that our molecule will improve the performance characteristics of what is currently used. This approach to ski building is providing us the physical vehicle we need to show and prove our technology and fuel the innovation of new materials for specific applications. We can dissect whats existing and reimagine the origin of how petroleum based materials perform and for me thatís at the heart of why I decided to join Checkerspot, and start WNDR Alpine.



  6. #6
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    Soilant green is people!

  7. #7
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    spooky action at a distance
    Last edited by byates1; 08-11-2019 at 11:58 PM. Reason: .

  8. #8
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    The vision Sterbenz lays bare is a simple but elegant solution to this waste management problem. WNDR Alpine will offer a three-year buyback program to recycle and ultimately re-use old ski material. He wonít divulge details on exactly how the process works, but says Checkerspot has a method to undo the manufacturing process on skis to access the usable materials inside of them.
    Woah.

    That's damn cool.
    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    the situation strikes me as WAY too much drama at this point

  9. #9
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    Seems (to me) like a company developing novel materials for the ski industry could benefit from trying to improve boots. 3D printing please!?!?

    Just sayin’

  10. #10
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    So essentially what you're doing is producing a polyurethane using oils derived from micro-algae rather than from petroleum, which you then laminate vertically in the core next to the central wood stringer? Is that correct? So still otherwise using the same basic construction of wood, fiberglass and/or carbon, etc.?

    There's a lot of nonsensical marketing babble in here and not a lot of detail on the actual technology, but as an engineer I'm pretty interested in what's going on behind this. Cool idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  11. #11
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    Do the skis need a regular application of fertilizer to work properly?
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  12. #12
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    No. Adding unnecessary Nitrogen to the skis would result in an algal bloom.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  13. #13
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    And then those blooms could close ski areas like they do FL beaches.

    Yikes.
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    So essentially what you're doing is producing a polyurethane using oils derived from micro-algae rather than from petroleum, which you then laminate vertically in the core next to the central wood stringer? Is that correct? So still otherwise using the same basic construction of wood, fiberglass and/or carbon, etc.?

    There's a lot of nonsensical marketing babble in here and not a lot of detail on the actual technology, but as an engineer I'm pretty interested in what's going on behind this. Cool idea.
    ^^^this^^^ Not much actual process info, but super interesting. Sterbenz, thanks for keeping us tuned in, good lucks man!
    Fear, Doubt, Disbelief, you have to let it all go. Free your mind!

  15. #15
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    Matt, is Pep joining the squad?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    So essentially what you're doing is producing a polyurethane using oils derived from micro-algae rather than from petroleum, which you then laminate vertically in the core next to the central wood stringer? Is that correct? So still otherwise using the same basic construction of wood, fiberglass and/or carbon, etc.?

    There's a lot of nonsensical marketing babble in here and not a lot of detail on the actual technology, but as an engineer I'm pretty interested in what's going on behind this. Cool idea.
    Agreed on the babble.

    See, I was left thinking they were altering resins. But I guess who knows.

    “Welcome to Sterbenz! Would you like to try our EXTRA BIGASS SKI, now with different molecules

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timberridge View Post
    Do the skis need a regular application of fertilizer to work properly?
    DPS is working on a one-time application.
    It makes perfect sense...until you think about it.

    No thanks. I'll stick with porn. - Benny

  18. #18
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    Thanks for posting about this, Matt. Couple of questions for you

    Does this mean that there is neither carbon fiber nor fiberglass used in the ski? Or is it plant-based PU that gets vertically laminated into the core and the remaining layup is similar to industry standard?

    If this material is vertically laminated into the core, how is it more sustainable than laminating wood? Or is it that the new material has different properties, and thus you're able to reduce the use of CF and glass in the layup?

    Are the bases ptex? What are the sidewalls made out of?

    The freeskier article mentioned you're creating materials through injection molding. On a scale from raw material that gets cut to size after the fact to ski boot, how complex of an injection mold are you talking about?


    Have you thought about calling microalgae something that sounds chargier? "Bio-based Checkerspotô Algal Composite Core" sounds slow AF

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sruffian View Post
    Thanks for posting about this, Matt. Couple of questions for you

    Does this mean that there is neither carbon fiber nor fiberglass used in the ski? Or is it plant-based PU that gets vertically laminated into the core and the remaining layup is similar to industry standard?

    If this material is vertically laminated into the core, how is it more sustainable than laminating wood? Or is it that the new material has different properties, and thus you're able to reduce the use of CF and glass in the layup?

    Are the bases ptex? What are the sidewalls made out of?

    The freeskier article mentioned you're creating materials through injection molding. On a scale from raw material that gets cut to size after the fact to ski boot, how complex of an injection mold are you talking about?


    Have you thought about calling microalgae something that sounds chargier? "Bio-based Checkerspotô Algal Composite Core" sounds slow AF
    Thanks for asking these questions!

    The 98% micro algae derived polyol which makes up our cellular composite core material is vertically laminated alongside Aspen and Paulownia. The algae accounts for approx 30mm of width of the core, the rest is constructed of wood. This material was engineered to meet a similar hardness as compared to wood but much lighter by nature of its design. If does increase the bulk strength by weight and torsional strength by weight as compared to skis with considerably more laminates, thus being heavier by comparison. The core is our entry point for our novel material, which over time will increase in the overall construct of the skis. As for right now, we use a standard composite layup of carbon linear and tri-ax woven fiberglass for reinforcement. The composite core is not more sustainable than a traditional wood core, as it is a completely new composite derived from micro algae. The rest of the materials, for now, are composed of traditional ingredients. PUHMW-PE bases and ABS sidewalls. The injection molding will come as result of capturing waste streams from the production of those bases and ABS sidewalls. For now we are simply grinding the material down and rolling into test this winter with ways to reproduce parts via injection molding for other applications in the ski. For right now we are comfortable with our terminology but I love your thinking and will keep that in mind for future material integrations, as we've got a lot in the pipeline. Thanks!

  20. #20
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    Introducing WNDR Alpine

    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    No. Adding unnecessary Nitrogen to the skis would result in an algal bloom.
    Which, if red in color, would make them faster.

    Good luck with the new venture, MS. Appreciate the personal advice you would give me when I contacted 4frnt about skis I had found and purchased used that hadnít been in production for nearly a decade.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wndr_alpine View Post
    Thanks for asking these questions!

    The 98% micro algae derived polyol which makes up our cellular composite core material is vertically laminated alongside Aspen and Paulownia. The algae accounts for approx 30mm of width of the core, the rest is constructed of wood. This material was engineered to meet a similar hardness as compared to wood but much lighter by nature of its design. If does increase the bulk strength by weight and torsional strength by weight as compared to skis with considerably more laminates, thus being heavier by comparison. The core is our entry point for our novel material, which over time will increase in the overall construct of the skis. As for right now, we use a standard composite layup of carbon linear and tri-ax woven fiberglass for reinforcement. The composite core is not more sustainable than a traditional wood core, as it is a completely new composite derived from micro algae. The rest of the materials, for now, are composed of traditional ingredients. PUHMW-PE bases and ABS sidewalls. The injection molding will come as result of capturing waste streams from the production of those bases and ABS sidewalls. For now we are simply grinding the material down and rolling into test this winter with ways to reproduce parts via injection molding for other applications in the ski. For right now we are comfortable with our terminology but I love your thinking and will keep that in mind for future material integrations, as we've got a lot in the pipeline. Thanks!
    Glad to see people innovating with materials, and I'm excited to hear reviews on here about how this new core performs

    Gotta say though, a lot of the marketing sure suggests that these skis are more sustainable than traditional construction. The current iteration is not. I would point out that when using the idea of sustainability to sell skis, especially when you're not actually selling more sustainably-produced skis, cheapens the very notion of sustainability

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Self Jupiter View Post
    Which, if red in color, would make them faster.

    Good luck with the new venture, MS. Appreciate the personal advice you would give me when I contacted 4frnt about skis I had found and purchased used that hadnít been in production for nearly a decade.
    My pleasure Jupiter, call me anytime: 801-415-1815

  23. #23
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    Iíve listened to both the Blister podcasts now, and if nothing else these guys are fucking masters of marketing-eco-techno jargon. Itís a different language, that conveys a vague impression of competence, without communicating anything of substance. Two podcast and this thread and I still donít know what the algae has to do with the skiís performance, but I still like the skiís basic specs, and the option and rationale of offering camber and no camber makes great sense. Iíd like to give em a try.

  24. #24
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    Introducing WNDR Alpine

    From what I understood, the basic notion was to try some new materials for the sake of novelty. For now, the skis arenít more sustainable than others although they are marketed as that. Damn! I felt the first podcast was basically advertising and some eloquent marketing mumbo jumbo without having any real benefit (at the moment that is).
    Itís an interesting concept and I would gladly try a pair but at the same time donít see why I should buy WNDR over a well established brand.
    Last edited by snowtastic; 09-01-2019 at 04:19 AM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by kootenayskier View Post
    Iíve listened to both the Blister podcasts now, and if nothing else these guys are fucking masters of marketing-eco-techno jargon. Itís a different language, that conveys a vague impression of competence, without communicating anything of substance. Two podcast and this thread and I still donít know what the algae has to do with the skiís performance, but I still like the skiís basic specs, and the option and rationale of offering camber and no camber makes great sense. Iíd like to give em a try.
    I see thereís some skepticism and curiosity surrounding our technology, its reference to sustainability and its integration into our skis!

    First and foremost, we're creating our products because of the new performance characteristics that our technology can unlock. In the case of the ski core, we developed a biobased material to improve bulk strength to weight, torsional rigidity, and dampness characteristics. These materials, aside from targeting our desired performance characteristics, are derived from a renewable resource - in this case, microalgae. Sure, the most sustainable ski possible would be hand carved out of a single plank of wood, but for those of us that want cutting edge performance from modern materials, this technology offers us something pretty revolutionary. Certainly not claiming weíre perfect out of the gate, but our technology provides us with a very real pathway to better products within an industry that historically has always had no choice but to rely on petroleum.

    For those that havenít had the chance to listen to the podcast, WNDR Alpine is the ďvehicleĒ for Checkerspotís technology to prove the superior performance of new materials and iteratively evolve them in ways that the oil industry has not.

    Checkerspot designs high performance materials at a molecular level with technology at the nexus of biology and chemistry. By engaging directly with product users and partnering with socially responsible corporations, we design and bring to market superior products with better materials to meet real needs. Our first materials are next-gen polyurethanes and textile coatings/finishes that make consumer products perform at levels never before possible. We are readying the release of several outdoor recreation products in the market to validate our approach and to kickstart a sequence of iterative projects based on our technology.

    Through large scale fermentation, we can deliver unique oils discovered in nature, but not previously accessible commercially. Our initial focus is on oils that can impart high value physical properties for materials by leveraging unique molecular scaffolds in a more sustainable fashion than incumbent petroleum inputs.

    Skis are largely reinforced by a wide range of petrochemical based polyurethane ďplastics.Ē We have the ability to change what these plastics are derived from: A cleaner, renewable, more sustainable approach to meet and exceed performance criteria we demand in our gear. - Matt



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