Norway, Biri, Madshus – Part 1

Martin Madshus produced his very first pair of skis in his barn in 1906 beating Abel Rossignol by a year  ( the Frenchman began making skis in Voiron “only”in 1907)

Madshus as a company has been continuously operating ever since, thus making it the oldest ski manufacturer in the world.

It likely also is the world’s most modern – at least one of, considering the amount of ( hugely expensive ) robots employed at the production line in Biri, some 30 kilometers from Lillehammer.

When you purchase Madshus, you become an owner of much more than a pair of skis.
Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world for manufacturing – that’s the price the business pays for highly skilled work force and stringent ecological regulations. Therefore, it only makes sense to manufacture high-end products down there. Like Hypersonics, Nanosonics and, of course, best of them – Red Line skis.

Today we offer you the Part 1 of our recent tour of Biri factory ( it is worth repeating that at the DailySkier we do not believe in longreads – those are not for our busy, hectic schedules)

In Part 2 Madshus pros: Bjorn Ivar Austrem, R & D director, Per Wiik who runs both racing and marketing departments – and Nils Hult, Madshus CEO himself, – will answer some of the more common questions both pro-athletes and amateurs have to ski manufacturers

In Part 3 we shall touch upon what Red Line 2.0 , a new iteration of Madshus’best skis, is suppose to be made of, look like – and ski as.

Have a good read!

There is no end to debate what is actually better for high-end skis: using wood in any shape or form – or skipping it all together. Madshus’ answer is “no wood at all” ( again – we are talking racing skis here – entry-level Madshus skis, produced in China, make use of wooden sidewalls)

Cores of all Madshus racing skis are made exclusively of Rohacell , low-density stiff foam patented by a German chemical giant Evonik – same material as widely in aerospace and car racing to name but a few applications

Rohacell is not one-fits-all material, it’s a family of foams with different properties – Madshus is using three different levels of flexibility to achieve desired core properties.
Mechanically, there are also tweaks and tricks – some ski models in Biri contain one piece of Rohacell at its core – while the others two or even three. All to achieve desired properties.

There is a little secret that gliding surfaces of practically all modern racing skis are made of PTEX produced by one manufacturer – famed Austrian Isosport. Madshus is not an exception.

A minor sensation to share here: Brand new, still under development Red Line 2.0 will have PTEX produced by a “”supplier other than Isosport”. Apparently, competitors are trying to leapfrog Isosport with new, hitherto unseen properties of their PTEX – trying and succeeding as per Madshus
All skis at Biri are checked at computerized stand called Compuflex G2 – developed in-house system for flex measuring

Robots are employed everywhere – doing the most repetitive tasks. The machines costs well over million Euros ( or US dollars) but, essentially, replace humans at the jobs few humans actually want to do day in & day out.

Humans ( sorry, no better term to stress the difference with omnipresent robots) control the most important processes, however. And not just “humans” – meet Vidar Igeltjörn, Madshus Camber Adjustment supervisor. You know what Vidar’s result on the grueling Birkebeinerrennet was a few years ago? 22nd right behind all those elite pro-skiers! (
There are some 90+ people currently working at the factory in Biri, some 30k from Lillehammer. Of which only about a third is involved in actual production, manufacturing some 85-90.000 pairs of high-emd skis per year – it’s a highly automated place, remember? The rest are working in warehouse and various support departments, including famed Racing Dept.

A whopping 70% of all the skis produced are now “skins” – no-wax classic ones, ever more popular in the Nordic countries

Red Line skis ( including their doublepoling variety, Propulsion), a dream of everyone reading this story, constitute about 25% of yearly production. Red Lines are not just skis – they are a true fashion statement with their  suggested retail price (MSRP) being – hold it! – NOK 7500 or some 800 Euros/900 USD at the current exchange rate.
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