November 8, 2023

zai - a pioneer for 20 years

From the vision of the best ski to a Swiss company that never stops driving innovation.

zai - a pioneer for 20 years

From the vision of the best ski to a Swiss company that never stops driving innovation - zai shows how uncompromising design and unbridled inventiveness are needed to find unexpected ways to reach the goal. Including how stone and paper became the perfect material for ski manufacturing.

Vision: Uncompromising Design

"We can do better," the small group with a shared passion was certain. The ski they all dreamed of did not yet exist. What was needed was an uncompromising dedication to design, materials and innovation. And so they put together a team that was up to the challenge. The very first prototype broke boundaries in terms of design and driving experience. But also in terms of price. On the piste, you would occasionally hear: "You could have bought a car for that". But what do you want with a car when you can experience the great feeling on the piste? That was exactly 20 years ago - zai's vision was slowly taking shape.

Innovation: the tamed stone

The minds behind zai were not content to stop there. They had to break new ground creatively, tinker with the perfect material, invent new processing techniques and optimise processes. With success: in 2007, a world première was achieved: zai processed stone in the ski core for the first time. It was gneiss from Andeer. This not only had a symbolic impact by capturing the soul of the mountain in the ski. Thanks to the natural alpine material, the damping properties and smoothness of the ski were maximised. The ski went into series production and found a permanent place in the hearts of zai enthusiasts and on the piste.

Together into the future: research and cooperation

zai grew and with it the diversity of its products. Wood and rubber became important components of the range. The innovative designs attracted the attention of ski racing as well as luxury brands such as Hublot, Bentley and Saint Laurent. But despite international recognition, zai remained true to its roots, with an unwavering focus on functionality and perfection. In a joint venture with the Institute for Materials Engineering and Plastics Processing at the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil, Eastern Switzerland, research into new materials is ongoing. Together with our Appenzell production partner Timbaer, we recently founded Fainschliff to cultivate knowledge and craftsmanship in Switzerland - and to train the next generation. Our innovative partner Polychromelab from Serfauserfeld has been supporting us for many years as a pioneering partner in textiles.

Next Generation Swiss Made: zai blade

The youngest member of the zai family completes the collection. The focus is on sportiness - no ski has ever been trimmed for this before. This is also reflected in the new materials: with the zai blade, we have taken up the challenge of replacing the previously unrivalled carbon. The extra soft material paper in the form of cellulose takes over the damping. It is harmonised and complemented by the strength of Titanal. The symbiosis of the two materials manages to be more flexible and stronger at the same time. The latest model also stands out in terms of design. The conical tip is consistently orientated towards the fall line. The sweeping shape with sidecut of the shovel shows straightforward elegance and is incomparably stable thanks to its unique geometry. Its world is speed, the zai blade is an unshakeable racing machine. The ski comes in a length of 172 cm and a radius of 14.5 metres. A first taste of the next generation.

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zai skis embrace piste, powder, and all-mountain ability. Together theyembody the purest expression of the zai philosophy: quality, innovation, andperformance.

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