Chroniclesof Carving: 20 Years of zai’s alpine artistry

Join us on a journey through the remarkable journey in a a special showcase of zai's 20-year legacy of ski innovation. Explore a curated collection of stories, from the first mountain muse to the latest technical triumphs, all captured in an exclusive book.

In the beginning
was the mountain 

Summits and steepness
pinnacles and peaks
stony, rocky ranges 

zai finds the line
reading the mountain
plays in the snow
like jackdaws in the sky 

zai, the tougher ski

A titan
going his own way
not willing to compromise
not willing to die

Finally, the time had come, the first zai skis were ready for the mountain. And from this mountain they came to conquer the world. With peculiar names like Sutsu, Vieneu, Siegiu, and Enado, there was something for every ski heart: a short one for off-piste, a long one for downhill, and everything in between.

The birthplace of zai was, as fate would have it, the place where over 250 years ago the Benedictine monk Placidus Spescha, one of the first mountaineers and founders of modern alpinism, celebrated his relationship with the mountain. Just as the ski pioneers of zai continue to do today.

«Above 7000 meters above sea level, it is vital to avoid unnecessary exertions. The zai ski was an optimal partner for me on descents in the Himalayas.»

The adventure-seeking Himalayan conqueror was driven not only to the highest peaks but also to the desire for a perfect ski – which he pursued with zai.

«zai belongs to a perfect lifestyle.» Tatjana Princess zu Schaumburg-Lippe, Art Consulting.

«Getting ready for the season.» Dieter Meier, Yello musician, artist, entrepreneur, HCP 6

Those who create something as radiant as zai should not be surprised when the stars turn towards them.

«The decision to build a ski factory in Disentis arose from the philosophy of zai. Anyone who pursues the perfect ski without compromise must have control over the core technologies and materials. And they must be present where the employees also have a close personal connection to the mountain, to skiing, and to winter sports. At zai, every worker is also responsible for quality...»

From the mountain, in the mountain, and for the mountain. The cycle of zai.

Once upon a time, in the last 20 years. zai is celebrating its anniversary and we are looking back on the unique stories. Today with the pioneer behind zai: Simon Jacomet, co-founder and inventor, the man from Disentis.

«When Simon Jacomet draws lines in the snow, it is more than a sport. It is everything this personality stands for: the Disentis monastery student, the mountain dweller, the ski developer, the artist. He has turned the ski industry upside down. And now comes zai.

‘Movement is expression,’ says Simon Jacomet, meaning the playful gliding in space, as well as tangible work. In both, he takes the liberty of reconciling technology and nature.Simon Jacomet is all in when it comes to skiing, movement, and working in a team with engineers and designers.

He seeks (seeked?)  the limits – preferably where others have (had) not yet been, to get to know himself and to test his limits. That's what was it's all about for him:

‘Finding the moment of harmony, where I experience time and space as completely present and things just happen.’ And so he sees zai as a metaphor for life.»

What more is there to add?

«The idea of using stone in ski construction is entirely in line with zai's philosophy. Putting the mountain into the ski. And with a natural material that is abundantly available, to forge new paths? Precisely ancient rock offers untapped potential in ski construction, as it has - in combination with carbon fiber - ideal properties.

This was discovered and developed by TechnoCarbon Technologies in Munich with their composite material Carbon Fiber Stone (CFS). zai recognized the advantages of the new material CFS and built the first ski with a core piece made of Grisons gneiss, the zai spada.

The creation story of stone is one of the main reasons for its amazing properties. Hardly any material has been created under higher pressure, and that over millions of years…»

Great visions require great effort. And zai has proven that by doing everything to incorporate stone into the ski.

Once upon a time, in the last 20 years. zai is celebrating its anniversary and we are looking back on the unique stories. Today with the statement: zai is!

«zai is the dream of the perfect ski. The ski that makes no compromises. Neither in material nor in construction. And therefore, offers a whole new riding experience: lighter, more joyful, more perfect.

zai is Romonsh. And it means 'tough'. Sursilvan is the language spoken between Trin and the Oberalp Pass. So also, in Disentis, where the zai skis were made. Right below the ancient Benedictine monastery.zai is the freedom that comes when we master the things, not the things us. And the joy of the moment when we are truly ourselves.

zai is also a mindset that we are still carrying with us. The quest for the ideal line in the snow. The aversion to any form of compromise. This also reveals a kinship with a similar word from Far Eastern philosophy.

'In the beginning was the mountain,' writes Leo Tuor in his poem for zai. A bit later, zai, and the ski came along. That's where everything starts anew. Not exactly skiing itself but testing what it's really all about with the mountain, the snow, the people, and the ski.zai is!»

Experience zai

Join us at a zai ski event to test our ski collection or come and visit us in our lab to experience the zai spirit.

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