A ski aficionado since birth, Swiss athlete Marc Iselin competed both in the Olympics and in the World Cup. Today he runs his own ski, snowboard and furniture workshop in Dietikon, just outside Zürich in Switzerland.
How did you get into winter sports?
My parents were both ski instructors. So I learned to ski before I’d even started school. It was clear that I had talent, and I soon had several wins in regional skiing competitions within my age category. That’s how I made it onto the squad for the ZSV (the Zurich Ski Federation).
What happened next?
In 1990, when I was about 10, I became really interested in snowboards. That’s where I found my true passion. So after the millennium, I put aside the skiing to focus on my next career. I trained in carpentry and cabinet making.
Did you make a return to winter sports?
It wasn’t long before I was back on the piste. I was so obsessed with snowboarding that I started training for races again soon after 2002. I had instant success. So after just 2 years, in Winter 2004/2005, I entered the World Cup racing. I stood on the winner’s podium twice that year, and on multiple occasions afterwards. I was named Swiss national champion on three occasions. I even trained for the Olympics.
What has been your greatest sporting achievement?
In 2010 I represented Switzerland at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. That brings back fond memories for me. It was a tough contest and the highlight of my sporting career. And yet it was also the end.
Who have been your greatest companions on your road to sporting success?
That would have to be Günter Wiesmann. He had 50 years’ experience in designing racing skis and always supported me at my races. From the 2007/2008 winter season onwards, we designed and built snowboards together. This gave me a chance to use my practical skills as a carpenter. With his extensive experience, Günter was responsible for making sure that our products were designed and manufactured to the highest standard. I learned a lot from him during this time.
Who did you make snowboards for?
After a few attempts, these snowboards were so well crafted that I used them for my own races. That was why I was so successful. I was able to make boards that were perfectly designed for both my needs and the requirements of each individual race.
What happened after your return to winter sports?
In 2011, as he was getting towards retirement age, Günter Wiesmann asked me to take over his ski and snowboard workshop. Of course, I happily accepted. Together with a carpentry specialist, I developed this into the specialist ski and snowboard workshop that it is today.
Who are the customers of your sportswear and carpentry workshop today?
The majority of people interested in my skis and snowboards are highly experienced skiers and snowboarders. All of my customers are looking for something very special. Anyone who comes to us wants skis or snowboards that are perfectly designed for their own ability and style. I also have many skiing and snowboarding teachers who come to me for their highly unique boards.
What’s the importance of customisation?
Selecting the right shape and material is what has a vital effect on the board’s handling characteristics. The way the board looks is just a tiny part of it. That said, each of my custom-finished skis and snowboards also have a customisable, striking appearance.
How does that compare to the furniture you make?
It’s similar. Everyone I make skis for also wants their home to be unique in design. If skiers and snowboarders come to me and spot examples of bespoke pieces of furniture, they usually end up putting in an order for furniture along with their sporting equipment. We already have that collaboration and mutual appreciation of high-quality design, which means we also work well together to create stunning bespoke furniture.
What stages are involved in producing skis and snowboards?
The first step is to construct the core using several layers of wood. This has to be done in such a way that means it can adapt to the requirements and capabilities of its future rider. That’s why I work with a CAD system. I design the wooden slats and boards with the aid of modern CNC machines. Then I add the finishing touches by hand. Finally, the core is covered with glass, aramide, carbon fibre, titanate and synthetic resins. The top layer is embedded into this to give the ski or snowboard a striking look. Now all that’s left to do is to fit the metal edges and of course to unscrew the bindings to suit the physical requirements of the rider.
What do you pay particular attention to when constructing skis and snowboards?
For me, that famous Swiss precision is top on the list of criteria. Everything must fit together perfectly and be adapted carefully to the relevant specifications. There can be no compromise.
I see that you wear Snickers Workwear in your studio and at the workshop. Is there a particular reason for that?
In my experience there can also be no compromise when it comes to choosing work wear. If I want to work like a professional, I need the right gear. The same goes for winter sports. If I use amateurish, inadequate equipment, I will never win my races. Whether it’s skis, snowboards or clothing, everything has to fit well and provide the right conditions to allow you to focus all your energy on your performance.
The same applies to working in the studio. The clothes made by Snickers Workwear fit perfectly. The trousers allow you to move freely and to kneel down to work. The knee pad pockets are integrated so that the knee pads remain in place. There are spacious pockets in the jackets and trousers, which means that you always have your tools to hand – blades, tape measure, pencil, notepad. The pockets are the right style and size to ensure that nothing falls out.
The materials have been carefully selected to stop you from sweating when you’re doing strenuous work. And there is yet another element that really stands out. The style of Snickers Workwear is so unique that their trousers and jackets don’t really look like work clothes. That means I can also wear them in my spare time, when playing with my children or pottering in the garden, for example.