Not so long ago, the only people wearing helmets on the snow were the people in speed suits, the ones threading the needle between one set of gates and the next. The thing was, most of us weren’t hitting the slopes in spandex suits. We were riding the trees and terrain parks, which meant we probably needed helmets as much as anybody else.
Snowboarders and skiers didn’t have a death wish, they were just saying “No” to helmets that were hot, heavy and thoroughly lame. So we created something truly innovative—something that completely eliminated the kook factor. In `99, we entered the fray with the Nine, the world’s first in-molded snow helmet. Astonishingly light, comfortable and, yes, cool, the Nine was so innovative, it set the stage for every snowsports helmet that followed in its wake.
No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe. That’s a simple truth. It also means that not everything we’ve tried in the past 30 years has been a “win.” We’re not ashamed to admit it. We don’t regret those moments in our history because our greatest achievements have also all been born from the risks we’ve taken. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Evolving, pushing boundaries, challenging ourselves…it’s in our DNA. It’s who we are.
So there we were, having a knockdown, drag-out fight. You’ve never seen so many people in an office so torn over a decision, but this mattered. It was 2011 and we were launching the Factor, our first shoe. We were looking at a couple of lasts—the form that would define the shape of our shoe—and there was a millimeter difference in width between the two. Yes, a millimeter.
Okay, maybe that sounds ridiculous, but to us, a millimeter might as well be a mile. We’re obsessive like that, but it’s OCD for the greater good. Did we mention this was the 17th attempt at getting the shape just right? Yeah, obsessive—and at a level that most companies would deem ridiculous. But we won’t apologize for it. Evolving and pushing boundaries is what defines us. It’s in our DNA.
And you know what? Those were seriously comfortable shoes.