Down the street from the birthplace of Mozart, and the eponymous square dedicated to him, Wolgang Mayrhofer, the dapper CEO of Atomic Skis, mingled with media and members of his international sales team at the trendy Café Republic in Salzburg, Austria. A well-dressed waitstaff served hors d'oeuvres and pilsners. On the outside of the four-story building, a projector displayed three enormous words: Built For Skiers.
The phrase is the motto for Atomic Ski's new apparel line, which is what brought invitees to the Republic that night. The company, which started out by making 40 pairs of skis in 1955, is now the world's largest ski manufacturer, producing 1.6 million pair each year. Earlier in the day, at the Atomic factory in rural Altenmarkt, workers placed the sidewalls, cut out the graphics, and buffed out the edges of skis Atomic will release to the public in fall 2014.
On this late October day, however, the attention went toward a completely different kind of project. A year from now, Atomic will produce three outerwear lines, designed by an Atomic team in Arc’teryx’ Vancouver, B.C. office (Atomic's parent company, Amer Sports, also owns Arc'teryx). The most high end, called the Cliffline (the others are Ridgeline and Treeline), features a PrimaLoft, water-resistant midlayer that has a back pocket for a thin, foldaway shell, itself made of a lightweight Pertex fabric. Pertex, according to Atomic, has similar qualities to Gore-Tex, but is lighter and has fewer restrictions (Gore-Tex only licenses their fabric to manufacturers that meet their strict standards).
Dana Flahr and Daron Rahlves, the faces of the marketing campaign, were on hand in Salzburg to talk about their new outerwear. In a hotel bar, Flahr mentioned his initial hesitations about the double-jacket concept when Atomic approached him with samples at last year's SnowSports Industry America tradeshow.
"I was like, I don't know if that's really going to work. I had some doubts, you know. I wasn't totally sold on the thin shell that goes on top, but it really grew on me after I skied in it," says Flahr, who expects to ski the resort in the Ridgeline kit, and Cliffline for filming. "You wouldn't expect Atomic on their first attempt at outerwear to make something that no one has made before, but they pretty much have."
For more Atomic products, head over to the 2014 Powder Buyer’s Guide.
Around the time dessert arrived at the Republic, Rahlves and Flahr excused themselves from the table. They would reemerge soon thereafter, looking only slightly uncomfortable in the limelight, wearing the new Atomic outerwear on the catwalk, flanked by Austrian break-dancers showcasing the men's outfits with various pops and locks, while a troupe of British dancers displayed the women's products. At the end of the show, a moderator with a thick German accent asked the two American pros questions about what they do, and how Atomic helps them achieve that.
Later, after most of the night's guests had left, the British dancers--now looking quite posh--talked about how relieved they were to be out of the skiwear. The group stepped outside. It was raining. The girls scampered away quickly to avoid getting wet. The group of Americans, many wearing new Atomic jackets, strolled to the next bar.