A few weeks ago I got a phone call from the fine folks at Atomic. They told me that they would be launching a new apparel line over in Austria and that I should go check it out. I said, “That’s a great idea!” I put it on the calendar and packed up my lederhosen. When they day came, it was a mere two flights, 14 hours and three screaming babies before I arrived in Salzburg, Austria, looking like I hadn’t slept in a week.
Atomic is a company with plenty of experience in the hardgoods realm. Steeped in a rich racing history, it’s been producing skis since the mid-1950s and is well-known by anybody who can buckle their own boots. In recent years, the brand has diversified its image by introducing a number of well-received freeride skis, and it remains at the forefront of the industry with ambassadors like Dana Flahr, Daron Rahlves, and Jossi Wells, among others, carrying the flag. Knowing better than to become complacent however, the company’s latest project has been in development for some time, and members of the media were invited to Salzburg, Austria last week where we got the first look at the new line of apparel.
Dana Flahr sporting the Cliffline mid layer. Photo: ATOMIC/Mirja Geh
My big plans of exploring Salzburg the day I arrived had been degraded, by jetleg, into a nap and some wandering of the city until I found myself a healthy dose of wiener schnitzel. At least I was exploring the local cuisine. The next day was a little more productive though as we headed into the Austrian countryside.
Atomic’s factory headquarters are in a small town named Altenmarkt, just south of Salzburg. It’s an impressive operation where skis are laid out by hand and built from start to finish with remarkable efficiency. After a tour of the grounds with a few others, we mingled with some of the extended Atomic team who were on hand to learn the ins and outs of all of the 2014/15 gear. Among a number of new hardgood items, everybody was equally excited to dive into the outerwear which had been kept pretty tight-lipped during its three year development.
Republic Cafe in Salzburg, Austria. All decked out for the Atomic Apparel launch party.
Back in Salzburg that evening, the official launch party was taking place at Republic, a café/night club/bar that seemed a perfect match for the energy and excitement that the team was approaching the launch with. I showered up, utilized the free shoeshine machine in the hotel lobby and headed over with the rest of the crew. The front of the building was drenched in the classic Atomic red, with the words “Built For Skiers” projected in the center.
A cocktail hour was followed by dinner and dancing, of sorts. As attendees dined, Atomic General Manager, Wolfgang Mayrhofer, welcomed everybody to what he called “a historical moment for Atomic. We’re starting a new era and I’m really proud that I can kick that off.” One thing that nobody needs to tell the people at Atomic is that outerwear is a crowded market. Reinhard Schitter, Business Unit Director and one of the key players in this endeavor, took the stage behind Mayrhofer to address that. He said the reason that the line was created was that “consumers asked for it.” He explained how the pieces were developed from a progressive freeride standpoint with an eye on the all-mountain crowd, and would stand alone to provide options to a key niche of the market. Think somewhere between Salomon and Arc’teryx.
Attendees enjoying the fine food and atmosphere. Photo: ATOMIC/Mirja Geh
An entertaining yoga-meets-dance performance followed, displaying all three categories of the new clothing line. Ascending from “Treeline” pieces, aimed at resort skiers, up through “Ridgeline” and on to “Cliffline” for the most demanding, big mountain and backcountry riders, they feature both insulated mid layers and super thin outer layers that can be folded down and stored in an easily accessible back pocket. The aesthetics were made up of mostly color-blocked primaries – blue, red, yellow – with a little black thrown in the mix. Once the show was over, the dancers mingled in the outerwear as the DJ kept the party going and some “running man” skills may or may not have been displayed on stage.
Flahr and Rahlves are the first athletes to sign up for the outerwear program and were on hand for the debut. They even strutted their stuff on the runway. “It’s good, functional gear that’s super lightweight,” said Rahlves. “It feels good and it’s got a lot of stretch to it.” He went on to explain that the stretch comes from the Pertex fabric used in construction. It’s one similar to Gore-Tex that’s already in use by companies like Marmot and Outdoor Research.
A brief pause on the catwalk. Photo: ATOMIC/Mirja Geh
Flahr has been participating in the development of the outerwear and his involvement marks the first time an athlete has been fully outfitted, from head to toe, with Atomic. “I was working with them a bunch,” he says of the testing process over the last nine months. “Checked [the pieces] out and gave them some feedback. When the next samples came in I grabbed them and went straight to Alaska. I’m pretty fired up on how they came out. Super lightweight, crazy comfortable and warm.”
Atomic will be hosting US launch events in the coming weeks, with the full line will being on display at the SIA Snow Show in January 2014, and available for purchase in the Fall of 2014.