Sophie Nicholson talks to Melanja Korosec, Global Brand Director at Elan Skis…
Last winter saw Elan celebrate 75 years of ski-making. Can you give us a bit of background into the brand’s origins?
Melanja Korosec: As the world adapts to change, we remain steady with the vision we’ve had since 1945 – to build the best skis for friends and family to enjoy the skiing lifestyle and create lasting memories. Our headquarters are in Begunje, Slovenia, between the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea.
From working with the best of this generation’s athletes to supporting junior and new skiers around the globe, we are dedicated to enabling skiers to have their best day on snow.
As Global Brand Director, you are one of the most powerful women in the ski industry. Tell us a bit about your career so far…
MK: I grew up a stone’s throw away from the Alpine Skiing World Cup slope of Maribor in Slovenia. I was inspired at the age of three to start skiing; ski racing at six. Later, Elan recognised me as an athlete and made me an ambassador for them. The whole time I was aware of the importance of education, pursuing a business degree. I finished business school and later did an MBA and master degree.
A decade ago, Elan invited me to work on product development. Starting as a junior brand manager for the women’s program, I went on to be product director for the winter division. When the opportunity came to take more responsibilities beyond the ‘female’ role, I was probably the first in the industry to be trusted with the development of a complete winter ski portfolio.
Today I run the global brand, design and product development team, with the responsibility for the overall strategy and design process, directing Elan’s innovation roadmap and product marketing initiatives.
Over the years I’ve learned it’s the team who achieves the goal, not an individual. The growth, innovation, product awards… all these are a result of dedication and passionate team work, and I’m grateful for my amazing co-workers.
Elan has established a reputation for innovation, pioneering many industry firsts. Is there one particular ‘first’ that stands out?
MK: Everything started with the victories of Ingemar Stemark and Elan introduced so-called carving skis – skis with extreme sidecut – 25 years ago.
Today, we’re introducing the Elan Voyager, which is redefining the complete skiing experience, not just how we ski; it extends to the journey from home to the resort and back. The design team spent several years fine-tuning the Voyager to ensure it delivers the level of excellence Elan is renowned for. The result is a ski that is bringing the mountains closer to many skiers who can’t wait to escape.
This ski allows you to carve up groomers, float through powder, attack moguls… but after skiing it simply slots into the back of your car.
It’s proof of Elan’s dedication to innovation, design and commitment to delivering good times to skiers around the globe. It’s the project I’m most proud of.
Tell us more about Elan’s age-old philosophy to ‘build skis for friends, families and good times’…
MK: The pursuit of excitement is a universal theme. The skiers looking for a good time aren’t looking for only the best conditions or most risky terrain, they are about skiing and enjoying the experience together with friends and family.
Elan’s range represents the brand’s mission for elevating the skiing experience for everyone, with a balanced offering of new technology. On one hand boosting confidence in skiers who are progressing, while its expert level products are developed for those looking to take their skiing to the next level.
Above all, nothing in our line is exclusive, overwhelming, overpriced or unapproachable.
Tell us more about how the relationship with Glen Plake came about:
MK: Glen is a living legend. His skiing is an uncanny mix of adrenalin, art, creativity and imagination; we are inspired by his adventures.
Glen is known everywhere and is living proof that skiing is a synonym for unlimited imagination and a deep personal philosophy. He and his wife Kimberly are skiing vagabonds, living on the road and holidaying at their home in Nevada or their apartment in Chamonix.
Additionally, Glen is an amazing athlete and a truly inspiring leader who is all about authenticity. His tenacity for adventure and good times aligns with Elan on so many levels, and we’re excited to have him on the team.
The multi award-winning Ripstick series has been an enormous success. What is it about these skis that makes them so darn good?
MK: The Ripstick was designed to go everywhere without any compromise. After years of testing and development, the end product perfectly blends the desired dynamics of a lightweight construction with a smooth ride and powerful rebound to create a high-performance ski with uncompromised versatility.
The skis were tested and challenged by Elan ambassadors, ski guides and daily skiers all around the globe.
We required a product that would be strong, stable, versatile, fun, playful and light. The goal was to develop a product that will make you a better skier.
The Ripstick is the ski companion you want this winter – plus, it’s Glen’s ski of choice!
Talking of ground-breaking skis, tell us more about the new Voyager:
MK: It’s not just skiing that has evolved; the way we live our lives has evolved too, and a ski day is not just about the turns we make, but everything around it. How we leave our homes, how we travel to the resort, how we start the skiing day and how we return home. For the first time in a long time we’re changing our perspective – from skiing down the slopes to creating an amazing skiing day. This has led to a product concept beyond any ski in existence: the Voyager.
The Voyager is convenient to transport, be it by car, train or plane. It simply and quickly packs into its custom bag (as it folds to under one metre in length), but despite being so space-efficient, it will happily tackle anything a demanding skier can imagine – all without compromising an ounce of performance.
Functionality, intuition and long-term quality are the three main design drivers: Voyager is the world’s first folding, all-mountain ski.
We’re all living through an extremely difficult time. Can you tell us a bit more about how Elan have reacted and adapted to the challenges of a pandemic?
MK: The situation is extremely fluid and unpredictable, and the challenges we were – and still are – facing are completely unknown. Over the past year we’ve implemented a number of measures, including setting up an operations task force to tackle issues such as how to assure safer production layout and social distancing of employees.
To end on a positive note, skiing is inspirational, and inspiration will play a vital role in post-Covid times. Outdoor activities will play an important role in people’s lives, and demand for certain sports products will increase. Also, online sales will continue to grow with higher pace. For both of these opportunities we are creating scenarios, working on new strategies and designing new experiences.