Four journalists in an Audi Quattro touring through Austria in winter, how could one improve on that? Well a trip to the Atomic Ski factory to pick up a pair of brand new skis to test should suffice; we felt like we had won golden tickets to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory! So we made our way to Altenmarkt in Salzburgerland, where we were lucky enough to have a tour of the factory with Global PR Manager Denis Dietrich to see how Atomic skis are made. The factory is a huge operation with some unbelievable technology alongside good old human craftsmanship. Luckily Atomic’s neighbour is a eco wood chip factory, which produces all of the factory’s heating requirements; plus the entire factory uses sustainable electricity, something that Austria has become quite the expert at. In fact this is something that Atomic has been silently working at, lessening their footprint and becoming more sustainable with even more plans for future improvements. Atomic only uses two timber material suppliers from neighbouring countries for the cores of their skis, and they keep material sourcing as ‘local’ as possible, so no material here from China. All offcuts and waste from ski production are sorted and recycled.
The factory runs for about 220 days a year and can produce in the range of about 1500 to 2000 pairs of skis a day… that is a whopping 400,000 skis a year; interestingly ski production peaked in 1991/1992 at 831,000 skis! Every ski has a unique QR code which identifies it for quality. Despite the many robots working at the factory, there is still a huge amount of human interaction within the process. It is like watching a beautiful, synchronised dance, as humans and machines build the skis and then computers test and check with precision accuracy whilst humans check for feel and ultimately pair up the skis for their life. One might think that making a pair of skis has a very large environmental impact, but it has been proven that making one Atomic touring ski is the equivalent of the same CO2 produced driving the 43 miles from Salzburg to the Atomic factory in Altenmarkt in a petrol car.
As part of our tour of the Atomic factory, we were able to interview Denis Dietrich the Global PR manager of Atomic.