Yes... there's algae in these skis. (Well technically, the polyurethane components in the skis are created with a proportion of polyols derived from algae instead of petroleum.) WNDR Alpine is one of the consumer product spinoffs from Silicon Valley biotech startup Checkerspot demonstrating performance-specific applications of bio-derived materials replacing petroleum-derived materials in consumer products. Armed with ski industry veterans Matt Sterbenz and Daniel Malmrose, alongside Pep Fujas and Xan Marshland, WNDR (Wonder) Alpine designed new backcountry skis utilizing polyurethane components in the core and sidewalls (Vital 100) derived in part from algae oil instead of the traditional petroleum oil.
Skis have traditionally been built from the various mixes of wood, plastic, fiberglass, metal and carbon fiber materials builders have used for decades, with some adventurous companies using flax and other "natural" fibers in place of fiberglass and carbon here and there. WNDR Alpine and Checkerspot have pushed the envelope of "green" materials technology into a new era for consumer products with their algae-derived polyurethanes, and are using their first backcountry-oriented ski products to showcase the application of this technology in purpose-built components to achieve desired performance. Algae producing the oils needed to manufacture the polyurethane components can be "grown" in vats in the lab in a matter of days instead of being extracted from deep in the ground with petroleum oil drilling, refineries and long-distance material transportation.
Renewable, sustainable materials technology is great to reduce dependence on petroleum for building our toys and other products, but the bottom line is how the products perform using these "greener" components. If the skis end up being dull, fragile, low-performing or underwhelming in any way...the fancy visionary technology may fall flat in the marketplace. Luckily for WNDR Alpine, the Vital 100 skis we tested are superbly versatile and perform better on backcountry descents and even better at the resort than we expected, beating out many established brand skis in the same category. If you give expert ski designers access to cutting-edge materials, a brand-new workshop and laboratory, they can indeed produce really effective skis to make skiers happy. The Vital 100s are the real deal. Great performance, Cutting-edge environmental technology to reduce dependence on petroleum, a certified "B-Corp" company with social responsibility and a cradle-to-grave lifecycle program to recapture the skis and their materials after their life is over. All for a $699 retail price direct from the factory. If you don't love the skis, WNDR offers a 100% refund when you return them. This is shot across the bow for all ski builders and recreational industries everywhere.
Waiter... on second thought... I think I'll have another pair of skis with algae in them....I really like them...
WNDR Alpine's algal sidewalls are poured as liquid into molds with the wood cores.
The sidewall cures and naturally bonds with the wood core without the need for expoxy adhesives.
See the full review of the WNDR Alpine Vital 100 skis HERE