Quebec-based Ferreol Skis was born four years ago and has since been turning some heads in the ski industry with their innovative high-end and eco-friendly skis. For the 23/24 winter they have just launched their new flagship ski, the Surfeur 112, which uses a mix of our unidirectional and bi-axial ampliTex™ flax fibre reinforcements to replace synthetic reinforcements.
To learn more about this young company and their aspirations to lead the ski industry onto a more sustainable path, Flurin Efinger, Bcomp’s Content & UX Strategist, had the pleasure of talking to the Ferreol Skis team, who answered a few questions with a unified voice. Read on to hear about some extraordinary skis, a small ski company that positions itself as a trailblazer for eco-friendly high-performance skis, and how Bcomp is helping them to decarbonise their products.
Can you tell us a bit more about Ferreol Skis and the people behind these beautiful skis?
Ferreol Skis, based in Quebec, was born four years ago from the collective passion of three friends and ski enthusiasts who first crossed paths during their studies in mechanical engineering at Laval University. United by a shared love for skiing and a vision for innovation, these founders form the core of our dedicated team.
Jonathan Audet, our CEO, is looking back on a professional skiing career with numerous podium victories in slopestyle competition. With an extensive background in the ski industry beyond competition, he brings a wealth of expertise to Ferreol that helps him to spearhead ski design, business development, and sales initiatives.
With prior involvement in various start-ups, Félix Lapointe brings important experience and an entrepreneurial spirit to his role as CFO of Ferreol Skis. The former competitive road cyclist meticulously oversees Ferreol’s business and financial management.
Our CTO, Etienne Boucher, assumes a pivotal role in Ferreol’s innovation journey, driving the company’s technological advancements through in-house R&D and prototyping. His experience and innovative mindset are instrumental on our pathway to redefine cutting-edge ski technology.
Today, our team has expanded to include four talented individuals, each playing a crucial role in Ferreol Skis’ journey. Among them are a Marketing Director, a Ski Engineering Specialist, a Human Resources Director, and a Sales Representative.
Our mission: Empowering slopes sustainably – Crafting high-end, eco-friendly skis to lead the way in the ski industry.
The ski industry sees a healthy mix of large players and small companies that enter the playing field with innovative ideas. What makes Ferreol stand out from the market and the many other small ski brands?
The genesis of Ferreol can be traced back to Jonathan Audet’s discerning eye, honed during his tenure as a buyer in the ski industry. In this pivotal role, he identified two critical blind spots, revealing profound disparities between skiers’ preferences and the offerings of the ski industry. The first challenge that demanded our attention was the pressing need to address the environmental impact of ski products. Reflecting on the industry landscape four to five years ago, it became evident that most ski manufacturers were neglecting sustainability in their products, allocating minimal resources towards minimising the carbon footprint. Ferreol emerged as a response to bridge this gap and redefine industry standards by prioritizing eco-friendly practices and materials.
The second issue at hand pertained to the on-snow experience—a crucial aspect for avid skiers. It became apparent that there was a significant misalignment between skiers’ desires and the products available in the market. Skiers were actively seeking skis that were not only playful but also versatile across diverse snow and terrain conditions. This mismatch in expectations prompted Ferreol to embark on a mission to create skis that catered to the dynamic needs of skiers, ensuring an enhanced on-snow experience characterised by both playfulness and adaptability. In addressing these two pivotal challenges, Ferreol has positioned itself as a trailblazer, dedicated to crafting sustainable, high-performance skis that resonate with the evolving preferences of the skiing community.
We already learned that Ferreol is based in beautiful Quebec, but many small ski brands don’t own their own production. So, if I were to buy a Ferreol Surfeur 112 with ampliTex™ flax reinforcements, where does it come from?
In a remarkable deviation from the norm for a small-scale ski manufacturer, Ferreol boasts its very own innovation lab nestled in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. This unique laboratory serves as the creative hub where Ferreol meticulously designs all its products and prototypes its skis. The production process takes a seamless journey, with the actual skis being crafted in a factory located a mere 4 hours away from the Ferreol laboratory, situated in Rimouski. This geographical proximity ensures that our skis are not only conceived but also manufactured entirely in Quebec, benefiting from the region’s abundant hydroelectricity.
Additionally, our commitment to sustainability extends to sourcing local materials. The wood cores of our skis, crafted from poplar, maple, or cherry, are harvested near the ski factory, covering a distance of less than 100km. This conscientious approach not only supports local industries but also aligns with our dedication to reducing our environmental footprint.
It’s pretty obvious by now that flax fibres form a central part of your skis. However, Ferreol seems to be taking a slightly different approach to their application than many other brands. Tell us, what is so special about our ampliTex™ flax fibre reinforcements for skis? And how did you use them?
At Ferreol, sustainability stands as a cornerstone of our mission, propelling us to continually explore innovative avenues to minimise the carbon footprint of our products. In our pursuit of environmental responsibility, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) revealed that traditional synthetic fibres, like glass or carbon, accounted for a significant share of our skis’ carbon emissions.
In response to this revelation, we embarked on a quest to identify eco-friendly alternatives, and natural fibres emerged as a promising solution. Among them, flax fibre took center stage, characterised by its nearly carbon-neutral production and exceptional mechanical properties. Choosing flax fibre technology not only aligns with our commitment to sustainability but also adds substantial value to our skis.
Collaborating with the Bcomp engineering team, our vision found enthusiastic support. They not only assisted in selecting the right products but also provided samples and valuable advice to overcome potential challenges. The incorporation of ampliTex™ reinforcements emerged as the ideal solution for our skis, seamlessly marrying sustainability with top-tier performance.
While acknowledging that some ski manufacturers had integrated flax fibre into their models to enhance damping properties, our objective differed. We aimed to replace synthetic materials in our ski constructions without compromising on-snow performance, seeking to elevate the smoothness and suspension of our skis. With a combination of unidirectional and bi-axial flax fibres in our new Surfeur 112, we really achieved a new level of performance which will definitely find its way into our future skis.
What is it like to develop and produce skis with ampliTex™ flax fibres?
It’s extremely gratifying to be at the forefront of an innovative project, especially when it promises to have a considerable positive impact on the ski industry and the environment. Our collaboration with Bcomp to use ampliTex™ flax fibres has enabled the development of a groundbreaking ski construction, delivering an impressive near 30% reduction in carbon footprint. What’s truly remarkable is that this achievement comes without any compromises on the performance and durability of our skis.
As a ski manufacturer committed to sustainability, integrating ampliTex™ flax fibres into our ski construction represents not only a significant environmental leap but also a strategic value addition. The beauty of ampliTex™ lies in its ready-to-use nature, seamlessly integrating into our existing manufacturing processes. This means that we can embrace a greener approach without overhauling our operations, offering a win-win scenario where innovation meets environmental responsibility.
Aligned with our design philosophy of playfulness and versatility, our skis deliver exceptional performance. What sets them apart is their ability to provide unparalleled dampness and smoothness while navigating diverse snow conditions. This unique sensation, unattainable with synthetic fibres, marks a significant milestone in our pursuit of crafting skis that not only meet but elevate the expectations of skiers who crave an extraordinary on-snow experience.
On a different note, the production of skis and skiing itself can hardly be considered as sustainable actions themselves. And still, at some point we all absolutely fell in love with the infectious joy, that sliding down a snow-covered mountain brings to our life. What are your reflections on this aspect and of the sport and the responsibility that comes with it?
In recognising the environmental impact of ski production and the sport itself, Ferreol is steadfast in its commitment to becoming a leader in the sustainable ski industry. Acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement, we are dedicated to taking steps in the right direction to reduce our carbon footprint and emissions.
In the realm of ski manufacturing, we prioritise the incorporation of local, bio-sourced, and sustainable materials, with Bcomp being a crucial partner in this endeavor. Our emphasis on sustainability extends beyond production to the sport itself. We actively promote local backcountry skiing, championing its minimal infrastructure requirements compared to traditional skiing. Opting for local mountains further reduces transport-related carbon emissions.
For our customers, we offer the opportunity to contribute to carbon offsetting when purchasing skis on our site. This initiative empowers them to offset their skiing-related CO2 emissions, aligning their passion for the sport with responsible environmental practices.
In autumn 2022, Ferreol took a decisive step towards carbon neutrality. Through Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) conducted on our ski operations and production, we collaborated with Carbon Boreal, a local university organization in Quebec, to offset all our carbon emissions. We not only strive to be leaders in the sustainable ski industry but also aim to educate our customers about the carbon footprint associated with skiing, fostering a collective commitment to responsible enjoyment of the sport.
A big “Thank you!” to the entire team at Ferreol Skis for taking the time and talking us through everything that goes into these extraordinary planks!
Learn more about Ferreol Skis:
In recognition of their commitment to quality and innovation, Ferreol Skis has received high praises from recognised industry authorities like Blister Reviews and even won an ISPO award in 2023 with their Surfeur 112.
What Blister thinks of the Surfeur 112:
“The Surfeur 112 not only represents a brand-new model for Ferreol, but also the first to implement their construction method of replacing synthetic fibres like fibreglass and carbon with natural flax fibres. Doing so was no easy task (see Ep.248 of our GEAR:30 podcast), but the Surfeur 112’s flax laminate translates to a really impressively damp ride quality for a ski this light, while its notably tapered shape and deep rocker lines make it highly maneuverable and playful. Despite those latter aspects (and its fairly tight sidecut radius), the Surfeur 112 is still quite predictable and pretty stable in a variety of soft-ish conditions, from deep pow to variable spring snow. The Surfeur 112 is much more engaging at moderate speeds than other skis in its category, without feeling like a super niche model. In sum, the Surfeur 112 is a playful and agile ski with an excellent suspension-to-weight ratio.”
More about Ferreol Skis: www.ferreol.ca/en
All images © Ferreol Skis