There's nothing quite like zooming down a hill perched atop thin strips of metal and wood. Though most of us have long abandoned our childhood sleds, Wolfgang Sirch never let go. More than 100 years ago, his grandfather started Sirch, a woodworking design firm in Germany specializing in horse-drawn sleds for farming. Today, the company offers more recreational snow vehicles, such as the handcrafted Standard Plus Davos, whose name derives from Davos, Switzerland, where the first international sled race was held in 1883. "They've been built the same way since my grandfather's time," Sirch says. "We just refreshed them." That means swapping standard plywood for steam-bent ash, the flexibility of which creates smooth curves and adds a softness to the structure. Speed-maximizing steel lines the runners and serves as the second—and final—material in the construction, contributing to Sirch's favorite design feature: simplicity. ($75, sirch.de)
A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.