Sweet Spot

Niche skimakers are making a run for diehard skiers

Alana Celii for TIME

Wagner Skis, which cost $1,750 to $2,300, are custom-fit and fabricated with a computer-run milling machine

Steve Kneller, an all-over-the-mountain downhill skier in Breckenridge, Colo., takes his skiing seriously. For years, Kneller, 58, a geologist who hits the trails five times a week, burned through pair after pair of big-name skis--like Icelantics, Fischers and Vlkls--because of all the sharp dodging and turning he does on Breckenridge's black-diamond slopes. So when it came time to buy a new pair this season, Kneller hung up his latest pair of made-in-China Dynastars for skis better equipped to handle some serious mileage. He shelled out $649--$300 more than he paid for his previous pair--for skis handcrafted in Denver by David Liechty,...

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