Aspiring mogul makes skis out of algae

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In Utah, a chance phone call led entrepreneur Matt Sterbenz to build a company around sustainable skis made from algae.

Sterbenz’s company, Wndr Alpine, began making its skis from algae in 2018 after Checkerspot, a company creating durable composites from fatty acids extracted from algae, called to inquire if he thought the material—by then successfully incorporated into surfboards—would work for skis.

“Send me some material, I’ll stick it together and see how it performs,” Sterbenz responded, according to Outside Online. After testing out the prototype on the mountain, he was convinced.  “Shortly after the new year in 2019, I set out on a path to build a brand around the technology,” he says.

The technology involves taking oils from algae Checkerspot grows in Berkeley, California and turning them into a polyurethane composite for the actual ski. Other components such as ski sidewall, remain based on traditional, non-renewable materials, although Sterbenz is working to increase the biobased content of the entire ski.