Meet Raffael Viletta a ski designer and maker. For some time now I have testing out different styles of skis. Remembering when I first had to pick skis that were taller than I was with my toes crossing somewhere way ahead of me, to today where I am wearing shorter fatter skis that make me feel more like Donald Duck – far less elegant but still much easier to control. Which is why Nina Hauser introduced me to Raffael who has been designing and making skis in his garage since the Summer of 2012. His first pair of skis took him until December of the same year to finish, but they were the start of a passion to create skis the way he felt they should be built. Or, more accurately, to deliver an optimum ski experience.
It started in a bar – doesn’t it always? He and some friends discussed the type of ideal ski they wanted and could not find on the market. He wanted a different shape and style of skis, as he puts it he could truly imagine his ‘perfect’ pair of skis. He could almost feel what they would be like, the flex shape and design. He and two friends took to his garage in one of the oldest houses in Silvaplana, and worked on their first pair of skis until they had perfected them.
Since then they have been steadily producing skis. It no longer takes months, having designed and built the required machines they can now produce a finished pair of skis in about 30 to 40 hours. And they continue to try out new shapes and designs. They use a walnut veneer, wood for the core, aluminium and fiberglass and some secret materials he was not about to reveal!
Next on his wish list are snowboards but he is still refining his ski designs.
I asked Raffael what really inspires him when designing these skis. ‘If you go up to Muattas Muragl and watch the sunset you will know what inspires me’ – I have been and I know exactly what he is talking about! Raffael continued ‘when you look at these mountains you want to ski down them, it’s such a playground and this is the definition of being free.’ As Raffael says he produces skis to give you that extra sense of freedom as you stream down some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. I have yet to try on a pair of his skis and when I do I am sure there will be an effusive blog that follows!