Q & A: The Story Behind the Rippah


Rocky Mountain Underground is backcountry/freeski ski manufacturer. But when Ethan Swadburg and Benny Smith wanted to take on a project to design RMU's first park ski that can take you from the top of the mountain and ski through the park, it was a no brainer. The Rippah was born. RMU sold the ski exclusively on EVO.com and it sold out without hesitation. Ethan started skiing for RMU in 2013 and Benny in 2014. 2016 brought the guys into the spotlight when they both had parts in the Level 1 movie, Pleasure. Here is the story behind the Rippah...

JU: What inspired the Rippah?

BS: The Rippah was created because we were dissatisfied with the traditional park ski. We wanted something that you could charge all mountain on and then ski park with it every day to if you want. I do not classify my self as a park skier so the Rippah is an all mountain ski...that happens to be bad ass in the park.

ES: We wanted a ski that is not park specific, but that is able to be used as a park ski. My thought I had in mind when we were thinking of dimensions and specifics for the ski, is how can we make a ski that can ski Breckenridge top to bottom, from the bowls and trees, all the way to the park comfortably. Wide enough to drop into Joker and Horseshoe Bowl and skinny enough to drop into freeway in the same lap. 


S: Ethan Swadburg | P: Ben Moscona

Before designing the Rippah, Ethan and Benny were skiing the RMU Diam and Wisco, but wanted something a little stiffer, a little wider, and a little bigger. Ethan said that the Rippah was the illegitimate child of both of those skis. 

When asked what it was like to have your own ski, Ethan said, "who wouldn't want their own ski?"

BS: It's wild, I love riding up the lift as a single and seeing the Rippah, and hearing good things about it. That makes it all worth it.

JU: Where does the name Rippah come from?

BS: Gotta give some credit my homie Keegan on this one. I had just gotten cleared from an injury and drove strait to Mammoth to link up with Ethan and Keegan for the Grand Prix. I had a case of Monster called Ripper. Well I drove like 18 hours strait, so I drank a lot of Ripper’s. The rest of the trip someone would ask for a Rippah* cause Keegan is from Maine. Next thing you know, we were calling everything Rippah’s. Tricks, beers, anything. So why not have a Rippah ski?


P: Grant Whitty

After testing the ski for a year, Ethan and Benny came up with the final design. The Rippah comes in a 172 and 182, 98 under foot. A "solid camper" with and early rise in the tip and tail. Benny said it has the lightest swing weight he has ever had in a ski. A playful but hard charging ski. 

JU: What is it like when you are skiing and someone asks about the ski or you see someone on them? 

BS: A lot of people like the top sheet and design of it. It’s a design that no one has really done yet so it sticks out. Its nice to see them popping up more and more.

ES: What really feels good is when I see someone I don't know skiing on a pair of Rippahs.  

JU: Where do you see the future of the Rippa going? Future design plans?


S: Ethan Swadburg | P: Gavin Rudy

BS: Who knows, hopefully it becomes a staple ski at RMU and we can work toward growing more athlete inspired skis. But for now, we just want to make the Rippah the best ski we possibly can, leaving every skier that snags them stoked on a ski that doesn’t break the bank, and gets the job done as an everyday ski. The design will be a surprise but you know we will come up with something creative!

ES: Who knows, it could evolve as our skiing changes or it may stay the same for awhile. We're pretty happy with it right now, so only little changes will be made for now. We pretty much nailed it in terms of how it skis, so all we have to do now is figure out how we can find that equilibrium point of performance, durability, and weight. 

Cover photo- S: Ethan Swadburg | P: Emily Tidwell



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