Handcrafted in the Alps

Elan’s factory in Begunje na Gorenjskem has been making skis for over seventy years with passion and love by people with capable hands and sharp minds. To those making them, the skis are a source of pride and satisfaction. And that is why Elan is the ultimate innovator.
 
 

 

You can see mountains from just about every window of the Elan factory in Begunje. The steep slopes of the Julian Alps rise in the distance, crowned by Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s 2864 meter national pride. ?When the windows open, our lungs fill with the fresh alpine air that always carries a reminiscence of skiing, no matter what?the weather. Perhaps that is why Begunje ?is home to so many skiing enthusiasts. Conquering the white steeps had such?a strong impact on people that they needed to start making their own skis.?And skis were always considered special. They are an inspiration, joy, satisfaction. They are made using the head, and the profound insight of a sharp mind.? They are made with hands, heart and soul. They are made with love and passion. That is why they are among the best in the world. That is why the many innovations that have changed the face?of skiing bear their signature.

PAST AND FUTURE

For a true skiing enthusiast, seeing the halls of Elan’s factory is almost a religious experience. Walking through the hallways of the manufacturing halls you immediately feel a spirit of greatness infused in the structure itself. In a way, it is like a museum, but it is also a window into the future. Elan’s engineers always manage to stay a few years ahead of the times, so these halls are a continuing birthplace of the future of skiing. It must be a special feeling, to be able to look back from the future to the present and smile roguishly. Well, that is exactly how Begunje’s engineers have always operated.

To just think of how many pairs of skis have passed through the machines and been caressed by the hands of the workers through the years ... All these skis laid end to end would circle the equator several times over. But Elan skis did not circle the globe only metaphorically; they have done it for real. They achieved global fame and took the name of Slovenia to all the continents of the globe.


TRADITION

All these years of tradition start with? one man, Rudi Finžgar. He started making ?skis before the war, at first for himself and his friends. During the war, he made skis for the partisan fighters and went on to start the company and Elan brand immediately after the war. His vision paved the way for the modern company we have today and it appears that his successors seventy years later still carry the same ability to take a different approach and view things differently than others. Elan quality is an accomplished combination of a sharp mind and skillful hands. After all, a head is no good if the hands cannot make what it comes up with.

HANDCRAFTed in the alps

Elan’s products are born from a close cooperation between the R&D department and master craftsmen who can bring ideas to life. The process is not always straightforward as certain advanced design concepts pose major challenges and may even seem impossible ?at first. But Elan is home to some of the greatest masters of their craft. Just about every designer, engineer and craftsman is an accomplished skier in their own right, so they know exactly what to do and which materials to select for a ski to act a certain way.

That is why Elan skis proudly bear the tiny inscription: “Handmade in Slovenia”. These three words define their very essence. Careful hands-on work has been the cornerstone of success of Elan's products since the beginning. In spite of the advent of modern technology and production techniques used to help craftsmen, the main steps in the manufacturing process are still done by hand. This is the only way to achieve the highest standards. Elan has also always produced all the main elements of the skis in-house using the best available materials. Wood is still used as the core of most of the company’s skis. Beech and poplar are the main types?of wood used in racing ski cores while several exotic woods are used on skis that demand extra light weight. Edges are made of high-grade steel and reinforcements are made of titanium, the most expensive part of the ski. The light and stiff metal alloy adds stiffness, torsional stability and a controlled flex.

Call us old fashioned, but we are still sworn to a sandwich construction. It may be one of the oldest methods of making a ski, but it remains the most efficient and still the best way to put together a good ski. The roles of cheese, veggies and sausage in the ski sandwich are assumed by the above materials that take on their final form after being squeezed together for 25 minutes in a press.

skill and dedication

It is a real treat to watch Elan's skilled workers doing what they do best - performing the same procedures they have done thousands of times in their years of work, with all the dedication, accuracy and love of a master craftsman taking profound pride in their work.

The process of making a ski has many interesting steps. The press is certainly one,?but the most visually exciting is certainly the grinding of the edges where the skis spark?like an iron foundry. The hall where the wood?is kept smells the best and meticulously assembled sections of the core provide an interesting insight into the inside of a ski. Looking at different core profiles it becomes clear how one ski can be stiff enough to grip the iciest of slopes while another is friendly and soft. The ski molds are an interesting sight as well, and each ski model and length has a dedicated set. They are a sort of archive of all Elan skis.

It is interesting to note that Elan makes skis by starting with the top sheet graphics. For several years now, they start with silk screening the design, logo and unique ID code onto the transparent top sheet. As each ski progresses through the manufacturing process, the unique identification code bears the signatures of all the persons that touched?the ski during production.


LEGENDARY STORIES

The halls of Elan’s factory hold an eternity’s worth of legendary skiing tales. ?Of course, the most important ones have ?to do with the racers that won World Cups, Championships and Olympic Games. Racing always had a special meaning for Elan and the company always knew how to listen to racers' wishes and needs. Sponsored racers receive skis custom tailored to their individual style. If Filip Flisar wishes for a GS racer with improved tail grip, that is exactly what he gets.

COMBINATION OF OLD AND NEW

Elan skis are a unique combination of seventy years of tradition and cutting edge technology and innovation. Throughout skiing’s history, Begunje’s R&D department has stayed at the forefront of global trends. It is a known fact that Elan’s innovators?were the first to come up with a prominent sidecut ski - what we now call a carving ski. After that major shift in ski technology, ?there came a host of unique technological solutions, including WaveFlex, Fusion, Amphibio, Amphibio 4D, TNT technology, U-Flex and the unbelievably light women’s skis that won awards for their technology and design all around the world. These achievements make Elan more than just a factory or a brand name. Elan is an important co-creator of skiing’s past, present and future, and the factory in Begunje is one ?of those hallowed places in skiing, spoken ?of in revered tones by skiers from all over the world.

 

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