Atomic collaborates with Grateful Dead on branded gear
Collaboration features artwork from Atomic pro athlete Chris Benchetler
Editor’s note: This is part three of a seven-part series on the latest and greatest finds at the Outdoor Retailer and Snowsports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show held in Denver each January. This trade show represents suppliers of consumer outdoor sports with constituents in the retailer, rep and resort communities.
Typically, skiers choose skis based on performance and not for the graphics, but that philosophy could change if you are a skier and also a Grateful Dead fan. Atomic collaborated with the band on a new ski design for the 2019-20 season.
Atomic took its already popular powder ski, the Bent Chetler, named after Atomic’s pro athlete Chris Benchetler and used Benchetler’s artwork on a new, very limited-edition topsheet graphic.
The Grateful Dead’s licensing team took its time going through all the proper channels to make this collaboration happen, and the executives at Atomic needed a little bit of convincing at first. The Grateful Dead is not as popular in Austria, where Atomic is based.
“But it didn’t take them long to realize what a great collaboration this was and how big it could be,” Benchetler said.
The all-wood, laser-engraved topsheet showcases the artwork from Benchetler with the signature Grateful Dead bear graphics, a skeleton with roses and Benchetler’s van, which he calls the Stealthy Marmot.
On the bottom of the skis, there is more artwork from Benchetler and fellow artist, Skye Walker.
“Skye and I have worked together on several murals and we took one of those designs and used it for the bottom of the skis. Grateful Dead music is all about improvisation, no show was ever the same,” Benchetler said. “That’s what I think about skiing, no line is ever the same. Each day is different, and we used that line theme throughout the artwork in this collaboration.”
The collaboration goes beyond the Bent Chetler skis. Dakine will offer Grateful Dead branding on a few of their backpacks and one style of mittens.
For those who do want to know about the technical side of the 2019-20 Bent Chetler skis, they feature Atomic’s HRZN Tech Rocker, which adds 10 percent more surface area to the tip and tail.
“There’s only about 300 of them being made,” Benchetler said. So don’t expect to see them in the ski shops for very long.