After biotech startup Checkerspot created plastic derived from microalgae, outdoor recreation products seemed like a perfect test for new compounds that replicate the properties of petroleum-based plastics. “We’re leveraging biotechnology to create new building blocks,” says cofounder and CEO (and skier) Charles Dimmler. He launched spinout WNDR Alpine in 2019, which introduced an algae-based, high-performance backcountry ski, the Intention, last winter. The Vital ski, designed for hardpacked snow, followed in July. WNDR’s manufacturing process eliminates 2 pounds of landfill-bound plastic waste per ski.
The ski’s stiff outer walls are made with algae polyurethane, poured into place to bind with the aspen, creating a stronger bond with-out additional adhesives.
The foam core, which is derived from algae, helps make the skis about 15% lighter than competitors.
Domestically harvested aspen is strong yet flexible, providing the responsiveness required in a high-performance ski.