E-skiing gains traction.
Have you always wanted to backcountry ski, but been turned off by the amount of backcountry skiing that it requires? A new Bozeman-based electric-ski company may change all of that. You’ve probably seen e-bikes on Bozeman trails—bicycles powered by small electric motors that can make even the toughest climbs a leisurely ride through the countryside. Bozeman resident Jerry Pozer decided to apply the same concept and technology to skis. “I just thought, ‘Man, backcountry skiing is a hell of lot of work. How can I make this effortless and therefore obviously better?’ That’s where eSki started.”
Pozer, who moved into a $12 million Bridger Canyon estate three years ago, after selling his Massachusetts-based data-mining company, started skiing his first winter in Bozeman. “I was never into the whole ‘outdoors’ thing before,” he says, pouring two fingers of Glenlivet over ice during a 2pm meeting. “But now I’m the biggest dirtbag at Bridger—like, just a real ski bum. I even bought a Sprinter van.”
In a bid to keep up appearances with all the diehards skiing Saddle Peak, he quickly bought all the gear for backcountry skiing, only to discover that the physical demands of the sport made it “overly athletic.” So, he started eSki out of the back of his modest, 20,000-square-foot horse arena and collector-car museum.
The concept is simple: an electric motor and track system are integrated into the body and base of a ski, which can be turned on to provide propulsion, or turned off to allow a natural downhill ski experience. Flexible lithium-ion battery packs are laminated into the core of the ski for durability and strength. Charging is accomplished via waterproof USB port (which can also be used to charge your phone, GoPro, drone, or vaporizer in the field). A tiny electric motor drives the heart of the eSki system: an innovative Kevlar and carbon-fiber track. Just 1-2mm thick, the 18-inch-long track runs directly underfoot. One half of the track is smooth, waxable p-tex (just like a normal ski base), while the other half is covered by an aggressive scaled pattern, similar to some Nordic skis. In Pozer Mode, each forward stride engages the scaled portion of the track, propelling skiers effortlessly uphill at roughly 8-10 miles per hour—in practice, it appears that each stride produces several feet of uphill glide. At the top, skiers switch to Jerry Mode, which engages the smooth p-tex surface, and allows a fast, natural descent.
Much like e-bikes have divided mountain bikers into two primary camps—those who believe electric bikes are (by eponymous definition) motorbikes, and those who have suffered severe head injuries—eSkis have divided backcountry skiers. Republican moustache from Bozeman, Willie Kite, says that eSkis promote “access for all,” and is already planning legislation that would harness the support of e-skiers (“the disposables,” as he calls them) to push increased access for monster trucks in Wilderness Areas.
Pozer resents any comparison of eSkis to snowmobiles. “Look, just because my eSkis have a motor and are propelled by a track, and make oversnow travel fast and easy, doesn’t mean they’re anything like a snowmobile,” he argues. “Snowmobiles are completely different. For one thing, they’re, like, way bigger.” But many backcountry skiers view eSkis as a dangerous, invasive, and unnecessary scourge.
Just ask Sam “Halvsie” Johnson, who was permanently disfigured in a violent eSki collision last spring in the Bradley’s Meadowskintrack. “This e-skier came up on me fast and out of control,” he explains. “He tried to pass uphill, but his contraption caught my pantleg. Next thing you know, it’s a horrific tangle of whirring motors and slicing, abrasive tracks. My entire upper thigh was defleshed, and I ended up losing 80 percent of my penis. Just gone, man. I knew these damn eSkis made people wussy, but I didn’t think that one would emasculate me, literally.”
While the debate rages on, Pozer is busy developing a Nordic version of the eSki. “Imagine being able to ski every loop at Crosscut without so much as breaking a sweat,” he exclaims. “Imagine a biathlon that reaches speeds of 40mph, and gives racers the opportunity to carry ARs—it’d be in the X-Games! The possibilities are endless.” And what about the safety and ethical concerns posed by eSkis? “Hey, if a couple of unlucky people have to lose some genitalia, or Mt. Ellis gets overrun by dudes like me, that’s the cost of progress. I’m from Mass, bro—think I care?”
To learn more about eSkis, click here.