Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

On the Job

Jed Yeiser Th’10 | Ski Designer

Yeiser draws on his background as a skier—he started racing competitively at age 10—to design and test two product lines for Seattle-based K2 Sports. He’s designed about 250,000 pairs of skis currently on the slopes—with a new line on the way. 

Jed Yeiser
Courtesy of Jed Yeiser.

How does your background as an athlete factor into your design process? 

I grew up skiing, and a lifetime spent racing proved enormously valuable when I started at K2. A huge part of my job is testing product and identifying small variations. My time racing makes me far more sensitive to small differences in ski performance than I would be otherwise. The first skis I worked on were focused on carving and “race-inspired” performance. Designing them was much easier as I had a very clear understanding of how the skis should feel on snow. 

How do you juggle various product lines? 

I’ve always worked in the ski design department, which is responsible for all engineering on K2 and LINE skis. If you walk into a shop today and find a LINE, I designed it. From a brand identity standpoint, K2 and LINE are very distinct, and we take that same approach to product design and technology. We’ve started to use some of the same design tools—notably, a large Excel program I designed to model ski flex and sidecut—but if an idea or technology starts with one brand, it stays there. 

Where do you find inspiration? 

Ideas for new product tend to come about fairly organically. We’re all skiers in the office, and at the end of the day, we want to make skis that we want to use. Before I set pen to paper, we make a pretty detailed product brief that describes the customer for a specific ski, the most important performance attributes, any constraints and cost for the product. Skiing is inspiration in and of itself.

Jed Yeiser: Skiing
Courtesy of Jed Yeiser.

The deeper I get into ski design, the better I understand the interplay between the mechanics of a ski itself and how that translates into on-snow feel. From a technical side, there are countless ways to improve processes, analyze product more efficiently and streamline manufacturing. Yes, I design skis, but I’m also working on better modeling strategies, production processes and machinery, material evaluation and qualification, and brand strategies—it’s that variety that enables me to keep learning and keeps the job stimulating. On the horizon, we’ll be releasing a new line of men’s and women’s skis that I’ve spent the last three years dreaming of and the last 20 months designing. 

—Interview by Theresa D'Orsi

Categories: Alumni News, On the Job

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