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PETER BAUER

WHAT IS “SHAPING” TO PETER BAUER? IS IT A SCIENTIFIC PROCESS BASED ON CALCULATIONS? OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU’VE JUST ACQUIRED AN “EYE FOR”?

One thing I’d like to make clear upfront: “Shaping” is a handcraft process, something a surfboard shaper is doing with his plane. I love it… if I lived by the ocean, it’s probably what I would be doing for a living. So, let’s leave the honourable term of “shaping” to surfboard builders! For snowboards or skis, the process is completely different. It’s way dryer, it’s about CAD, moulds and press adjustments. It is a mix of scientific elements – from maths which you need for sidecuts and flex curves, to physics, when it’s about simple durability tasks or vibration absorption. And it has to-do with experience and feeling too: What happens if I change the sidecut and choose a bigger radius? How does the board or ski behave when I stiffen up the tail? During the on-snow phase of development, you need to understand why there is suddenly more pop at the exit of a turn, or why the edge grip on hard pack is weaker. All these factors make this job quite complex, but you build an understanding over the years.

■IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES A GOODSKI/SNOWBOARD?
A good board or ski needs something very trivial, often underestimated by the industry: The sidecut needs to be compatible and coherent with the flex curve, otherwise there is no harmony when turning. Personally, I believe that’s the most important factor, but there are other important attributes; for instance, the balance of layups used with the wood. Every weaving has different characteristics – carbon fiber is very poppy, almost too explosive, whereas a fiberglass laminate is a lot slower to recoil. Birch wood is tense with a very progressive flex curve, while paulownia is almost dead. Knowing how these combinations work together is essential. In the end, it’s very easy to pimp-up products with sintered bases and other stock materials, but selecting the basic ingredients and applying them in the right way… that’s what creates a good produc

WHY DOES AMPLID PUT SUCH AN IMPORTANCE ON INNOVATION?
It’s both my own selfish search for a better riding day, and the natural pressure of the market. Imagine you can have a better shred experience with a single innovation. Who would say “no”? Now, as a logical consequence, more and more riders want our product. An addictive vicious circle. Actually, a vicious spiral… upwards!

AMPLID MANUFACTURES AT A THIRD-PARTY FACTORY. IS THIS A DISADVANTAGE IN THE INNOVATION WAR
So long as you choose the right manufacturer, it’s the best thing that can happen to a small brand like Amplid. We benefit from economical scaling – buying raw materials in cumulated quantities is a lot cheaper. Actually, most of our chosen materials wouldn’t be available to us in such small quantities as a batch manufacturer. Suddenly, I have access to special, tailor-made ingredients which I could never get my hands on before. And factories producing more units can afford state of the art machinery, because it’s easier for a large producer to repay such huge investments. Working on innovations, there’s limited risk that another brand will rip-off our ideas, but there’s a moral code in our industry and I’ve chosen to work with partners which I know will abide by it. And it’s not like innovation is totally dependent on our manufacturer; AntiphaseTM for example was developed with external consultation from a specialist engineering lab. Only the final assembly was developed by the factory.

ON EVERY AMPLID SKI/SNOWBOARD THERE’S A LITTLE GRAPHICAL DETAIL WHICH SAYS “PROUDLY MANUFACTURED IN THE ALPS”. WHAT ABOUT PRODUCING AT THE MOTHERSHIP, IN AUSTRIA, MAKES YOU PROUD?
Yes, I’m proud to manufacture in Austria, for sure. In times where more and more European facilities are closing their doors, it’s quite an adventure to build a factory from scratch. Price competition is tough and other brands feel pressured to move production to low-cost countries to stay competitive, but when your vision is to build the best skis and snowboards, the only option is to work with the best factory. And make no mistake, the Mothership is the most sustainable and technically advanced factory in existence.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES A GOOD SKI/SNOWBOARD? A good board or ski needs something very trivial, often underestimated by the industry: The sidecut needs to be compatible and coherent with the flex curve, otherwise there is no harmony when turning. Personally, I believe that’s the most important factor, but there are other important attributes; for instance, the balance of layups used with the wood. Every weaving has different characteristics – carbon fiber is very poppy, almost too explosive, whereas a fiberglass laminate is a lot slower to recoil. Birch wood is tense with a very progressive flex curve, while paulownia is almost dead. Knowing how these combinations work together is essential. In the end, it’s very easy to pimp-up products with sintered bases and other stock materials, but selecting the basic ingredients and applying them in the right way… that’s what creates a good product. WHY DOES AMPLID PUT SUCH AN IMPORTANCE ON INNOVATION? It’s both my own selfish search for a better riding day, and the natural pressure of the market. Imagine you can have a better shred experience with a single innovation. Who would say “no”? Now, as a logical consequence, more and more riders want our product. An addictive vicious circle. Actually, a vicious spiral… upwards!
AMPLID MANUFACTURES AT A THIRD-PARTY FACTORY. IS THIS A DISADVANTAGE IN THE INNOVATION WAR? So long as you choose the right manufacturer, it’s the best thing that can happen to a small brand like Amplid. We benefit from economical scaling – buying raw materials in cumulated quantities is a lot cheaper. Actually, most of our chosen materials wouldn’t be available to us in such small quantities as a batch manufacturer. Suddenly, I have access to special, tailor-made ingredients which I could never get my hands on before. And factories producing more units can afford state of the art machinery, because it’s easier for a large producer to repay such huge investments. Working on innovations, there’s limited risk that We have been in our new factory for 16 months and obviously, adjusting to using new processes and machinery has caused some hiccups, but right now all the processes seem to be running smoothly.

WEIGHT AND DURABILITY ARE CONTRADICTORY. JUGGLING THESE TWO PROPERTIES IS SOMETHING YOU SEEM TOTALLY OBSESSED WITH. HOW FAR CAN YOU PUSH IT?
You can very easily make a ski or a snowboard insanely light, but it will break. And you can make it invincible, but riding with 10 kg under your feet sucks. Light AND durable is a huge challenge. With the Facelift ski and the Milligram splitboard, I believe that we have set a new benchmark within the industry. Both models ride superbly and the feedback has been incredible. But the quest never ends and we’re currently working on a new construction, to shave-off even more weight. I have no idea when it will touch ground on Planet Earth… perhaps next year… maybe it will take two years. Right now, we have a half kilogram head-start on our peers. By the time they catch-up we’ll be ready to unleash it.

FIVE YEARS AGO, ROCKER WAS THE BUZZWORD, BUT NOW EVERYBODY IS TALKING ABOUT CAMBER AGAIN. DO YOU SEE SUCH EXTREME TRENDS IN THE FUTURE?
It was very clear to me that camber would make a big comeback. Rocker is helpful for floatation in powder, and it’s forgiving, but nothing has more pop than a spring-loaded tail. Currently, there isn’t a particular shape detail as prevalent as rocker was five years ago. Nose shapes will need to return to normality again. Some look so weird to me… actually they’re just wrong. They look different, and variety is good, but as soon as aesthetics destroy function, it must have a half-life. I hope consumers recognize what’s a fad, and what’s a real innovation!