Cyrus Schenck was an Engineering student at Clarkson when he was introduced to the technology that would change the course of his career. The concept of a non-Newtonian polymer was something that intrigued Cyrus, and with a little imagination, some engineering, and a lot of window washing to fund it all, Renoun was born.
Renoun skis have been on our radar for some time, but we only recently got the chance to try them out, during our Fall/Winter '17 Action shoot in three feet of fresh snow at Sugarbush, Vermont. We caught up with Cyrus after the shoot to hear more about his innovative technology, and the future of Renoun.
Alps & Meters: Did you grow up skiing? Tell us about your life in the mountains!
Yes! Classic Vermont upraising. Started skiing when I was 3 years old with my dad. Sugarbush and Jay Peak where our stomping grounds back then, and still are. I remember my dad saying we could switch to snowboarding once we where faster than him. Smart move because by the time we could beat him we didn't want to switch and have to learn a whole new sport. So I ended up a skier, through and through.
Alps & Meters: What makes Renoun skis different? How are you shaking up the industry?
Two simple things, really. Our Hyper Dampening Technology and our direct-to-consumer approach. HDT technology allows all our skis to adapt to conditions in the blink of an eye; they essentially get stiffer as you ski faster, harder or hit ice. Selling direct means we have a much better relationship with our customers and are able to react to their needs much faster. For example, we have a 100 Day Guarantee on all our skis so if there's any issues, we will take them back or swap them out overnight. Seriously. And last year we had one return. One!
Alps & Meters: What has been the biggest challenge in launching a new ski brand?
It's an insanely crowded market. There are literally thousands of models of skis out there. Every company always overproduces and you're always left with closeouts. Proving to people that we are fundamentally different has been tough, since we need to cut through so much good marketing by the other brands. It's an amazing challenge.
Alps & Meters: You won ISPO gold at the age of 24 (correct me if I'm wrong?). What was that like?
Yes, we won ISPO Gold before we sold a single ski. I didn't even know what ISPO was until I got to Munich. Only once I was there on stage and the whole Elan team was looking up did I realize we had just won an award they (and every one else) had spent years trying to get. It was pretty humbling to have all those other companies that I had grown up with acknowledging the tech.
Alps & Meters: How long did it take you to develop your first ski?
Oh man, I don't even want to say. It was a year to develop the press and then another year before our first ski. But it was so bad we just screwed it to the wall as a reminder to ourselves of where we started. It was another 2 years before we perfected HDT and won ISPO Gold
Alps & Meters: Favorite place to ski in VT? Why?
Jay Peak. I grew up skiing there and fell like I know the place inside and out. Nothing beats getting back to your secret powder stashes after a snowfall.
Alps & Meters: Apres ski drink of choice?
The Lucy. I'm going to open a bar and name it after it once Renoun is smoothly sailing.
Alps & Meters: All time favorite ski day?
Mad River Glen in the spring of 2014. We had a crew of 10 people lapping the single chair. It was so cold but there was so much snow we didn't split up once the entire day. I'm talking jump-off-a-cliff-and-land-on-your-face-and-be-ok deep snow. it was amazing.
Alps & Meters: What's next for Renoun?
Starting to first license HDT tech to other ski companies but we're already looking beyond the ski industry. HDT can be applied to so much more, it's so exciting.