Matt Manser M'04

A global project manager at the ski equipment company Atomic shares the tricks of his trade.

What are your top priorities when designing ski boots? We always think about three things: fit, comfort, and performance. We spend millions of research and development dollars trying to identify those three key points and make them come alive in the best way possible for each skier.

How do you reinvent the boot season after season? We look at a current boot that needs a refresher. Sometimes there’s a new plastic that behaves better in terms of skiing performance, or it could be a plastic that is more moldable. One of the things we pioneered seven or eight years ago was a ski boot that was fully heat-moldable—you put it into this special oven and it becomes warm and soft, so that when you step into it, it molds to the shape of your foot.

You get to test all of the products, right? Yes, we have to go skiing [laughs]. It sounds really fun and it is really fun, but I can tell you that by the time the ski boot is sellable in the store, there were thirty or forty versions that did not fit that well—and it wasn’t very fun to ski in them.

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