SEP 19, 2016
It sounds obvious, but if you want to make perfect skis for women, you have to build them from their point of view.
That’s why Atomic is proud to have a female ski product manager on board. We met with Maria Pichler, former snowboard pro and now women’s product expert to talk about her career and latest project: Vantage X skis.
FROM WORLDCLASS SNOWBOARDER TO PRODUCT EXPERT
With a ski lift behind her family's house, Maria was practically born with skis on her feet. She was only 2 years old when she first hit the slopes and soon she got into ski racing. But then came the ‘80s and snowboarding was the thing to do, so Maria switched her skis for a board and quickly got pretty good at it. So good that she eventually became a professional athlete, winning 14 World Cup races, a European title plus a silver medal at the World Championships, and taking a 5th place at the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“I was sponsored by Oxygen, the snowboard brand from Atomic, so when I ended my sports career I was hired by Atomic to become a product trainer.” Today she is a product manager, taking care of Atomic’s entire women's ski collection – from design to product testing all the way through to commercialization.
“My job is super rewarding. Not only because I can be creative and work with colors and designers. I am also steering the business side of things.”
PERFECTIONIST THROUGH AND THROUGH
Maria is in a pretty unique position acting as a female product manager for more than 10 years in a male driven industry. In fact, there might be no other woman in a comparable role. And she sure is good at what she does. Some of the most popular, bestselling skis worldwide have Maria’s handwriting on them. With several ski areas just next to the ski factory in the Austrian Alps, she can go out and test any ski all year around. “I always have a specific look and feel in mind and when a ski doesn't reach my expectations it’s back to the drawing board” says Maria. “I think I have a good feeling for what's important for different skiers, whether she's sporty looking for an aggressive ski or a recreational skier just wanting to cruise down nice and easy. My goal is perfecting a ski that will change a woman’s day in the mountains."
Of course, there's also a Maria outside of skiing. She's an avid Qigong practitioner and teacher, runs half marathons and spends as much time as possible in the mountains, summer and winter, all of which help her find balance to re-center.
VANTAGE X FOR WOMEN
Maria shares her passion for skiing and the mountains with her 22-year-old son Patrick who is a product engineer at Atomic so they get to work together on many projects. Like Maria's latest 'baby': Vantage X W, Atomic’s brand new piste/all-mountain ski line for women. “What makes the Vantage X skis special is that they are about 20% lighter than comparable models so they are super easy to handle. The balance between strength and weightlessness in these skis is ideal for women” says Maria. Vantage X is available from fall 2016.