Sundog Ski Chairs
Just Sitting on your Past
Monday Mar. 31st, 2014
Have you ever had something you know that you’ll never use again but you keep it anyway to help you remember the good times you enjoyed when you were using it? For me it was downhill skis. I had several pairs that made the move to Montana with me, and there were some that did not.
When I was about 7 or 8 years old our family took a ski vacation to Spirit Mountain in northern Minnesota. Until that time I had not attempted downhill skiing and was not very willing to learn. My Dad used a tactic that I have since used with my own daughter several times. He told me that if I would try skiing he would buy me all new equipment when we got home. I picked out some orange, black, and white Dynasta-Omeglass 170 skis. They had Salomon 222 bindings with Nordica boots.
I don’t remember what happened to that first pair of skis but I wish I had kept them. It was not long ago that I stopped into a thrift store in Four Corners to see what they had, as I walked around the corner I saw them. There was a pair of Dynastar-Omeglass skis in the used ski bin. I bought them and felt I had regained a part of my skiing past.
My skiing career started at a small local ski area in Minnesota called “Buck Hill”. Strangely enough I meet quite a few people here in Montana that had heard of it. Buck Hill is also the home hill to Olympic medalist, Lindsey Vonn.
I skied several years with friends, and then joined the freestyle team to take it to another level. I had never skied in the mountains until my first trip to Colorado, after that I knew there was no turning back. I moved to Montana in 1992 after finishing college, and have never regretted my decision.
In 2009 I remember going to lunch with my folks at a place in Big Sky and noticed a cool bench in the waiting area. The business had an interesting décor with a lot of cool-older skis that I remembered well. It got me thinking I should try my hand at building something out of old skis. I wanted to use the skis that I had skied on as a way to immortalize them.
I was happy with the way my own creation turned out so I started collecting old skis from friends, coworkers, paper ads, and thrift stores. My first chair was built for a guy that works with my wife. He asked if I could make a chair for his mom using the skis that the kids had skied on. What was unique about these skis is that they had the kid’s names stamped on them; and they were old.
As my collection grew, it turned into a small fence out back. I remembered a lot of these ski brands from my freestyle days. People continued to donate their old skis to me and I was convinced that about 80% of people skied K2’s and Rossignol, I spent some time on those brands as well. I have yet to find the pair of skis that I really want. Someday maybe I’ll come across a pair of K2 Comps and Rossignol red EM blue FM skis. Many of the people I have built chairs for really like the 80’s and 90’s colorful skis with all the neon tops and bottoms.
About 95% of people ask if I can use skis that they or their children learned to ski on. Unfortunately, I was unable to build one chair for a person who had inquired because they no longer had the skis the kids used, and I didn’t have that particular pair either. Finding enough of the same skis is so difficult that no chair has ever been duplicated, and each ski tells a story. As I mentioned, it’s the skis that have been personalized that make each chair unique.
For those of us who grew up on skinny skis, it requires six skis for a chair. It takes four to five skis for the chairs using “fat” skis. I don’t have an inventory of the fat skis because nobody is ready to let me saw them in half yet.
I have made chairs and benches out of different materials depending on the location the chair will be placed. Redwood or cedar is best for chairs that will be out in the elements. Stained chairs with a waterproofing, and painted chairs are also popular because you can bring out a lot of color in some of the skis being used. Painted chairs are best if kept on a covered deck or patio. I have also built ski tail ottomans, end tables, sidewalk solar lights and the ever popular ski tip bottle opener. Just to add a little twist to a chair, I finish it off with a bottle opener and bottle cage. I have many digital images of each chair built if you would like to get some ideas.
The Name: Sundog comes from my first year living in Montana. In 1992, I was working nights so I bought a midweek pass at Bridger Bowl. I remember a poster in the office that said Sundogs and Powder Hounds. Coming from the Midwest, I was new to the whole idea of skiing powder, but I remember my first day at Bridger following a buddy over to the apron for some really nice turns. As for the sundog part, to me other than a deep powder day, nothing beats a bright sunny day skiing. So a name was born.
If you have a pair of skis that speak to you and still have stories to tell but they are duct-taped together out in the garage having survived countless garage sales, get in touch with me and I’ll bring them back to life for you.
Matt Hussung has a full time job, he makes Sundog Ski Chairs in his free time, when he isn’t enjoying making turns at a local ski area. He is always accepting donations of old skis, to donate give email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 406-570-3016