Local at the Core
Haines is surrounded by mountains.
Jagged snowy peaks scale over four
thousand feet in all directions. Unsurprisingly, Haines is a top mountain
sports destination that attracts skiers
and snowboarders from across the globe.
Graham Kraft and Ian Seward are the
brains and brawn behind Fairweather
“This is such a hot ski destination and
nobody is building skis here… it seemed
like a no brainer to be doing this locally. We are uniquely fitted, we have the
quality of wood, the quality of mountains, and the spotlight on Haines—we
are set up for success,” says Seward.
Seward and Kraft combined years of
woodworking experience and an adoration for backcountry exploration to
found Fairweather Ski Works in 2013.
It took the duo six years of trial, error,
and skiing to master the current design.
Local wood is at the core of every ski.
“We are lucky to have both paper
birch and Sitka spruce available locally.
These are the two main ingredients for
traditional wood ski building because
they both have an optimum strength to
weight ratio and a great degree of flexibility without breaking,” Seward says.
Seward and Kraft take pride in tracing each ski back to a carefully selected,
sustainable timber source.
“Our skis are a very efficient use of
wood, and we only use about six board
feet per pair of skis. By selectively harvesting or using salvaged timber, we can
make our impact on the environment as
minimal as possible while still contributing to the local economy,” says Kraft.
Kraft and Seward look to local businesses for goods and services whenever
possible. Many of their products are
adorned with the work of local artists.
They also support the greater Haines
economy by strengthening ski-based
tourism, a key economic driver in the
“We are working with community
partners to build back-country ski huts
in the area as part of a larger movement
to try and bring off-season, winter tourism to town. That’s going to be a big
help to this place,” says Seward.
When they are not in the woodshop
perfecting their designs they are out
testing them on the slopes.
Fairweather Ski Works founders Graham Kraft (left) and Ian Seward add a
top sheet before loading the skis into their homemade wooden ski press that
will add 180 degrees of heat and up to sixty-thousand pounds of pressure.