Bjorn To products are manufactured in U.S.
Winthrop Mountain Sports co-owners Erik and Marine Bjornsen — who both had long careers as world-class Nordic skiers — have launched a new company selling a line of ski poles that will be manufactured in the United States.
During a well-attended launch party for the company — called Bjorn To — at the store last weekend, Erik Bjornsen said he, Marine and a collaborative team have been working for three years on a lightweight, high-performance, carbon fiber pole that could be made in America at more-accessible price points than poles made by foreign manufacturers.
The poles will be made at Ratio Made, a carbon fiber composite manufacturing company based in Redmond. Ratio Made founder and Managing Director Sohier Hall is a partner in Bjorn To; Tyler Simpson is an investor.
In September 2020, the Bjornsens, along with husband-and-wife Eric Purpus and Kelly Bolinger, bought the iconic Winthrop store from Rita Kenny and Geof and Diane Childs. Erik, a Methow Valley native, bought his first pair of skis at the store when he was 6 years old.
According to the Bjorn To website, “During their time in the shop they [the Bjornsens] quickly realized the need for a brand with modern style, top level performance, and made locally … We set out to design a pair of poles that performs to elite racer standards and is accessible and affordable to the thousands of us who take to the trail for the love of the activity. … After several years of prototypes and developing poles we were all happy with, we launched our brand in October of 2023.”
There will three models designed for different uses — Bjorn to Fly, Bjorn to Adventure and Bjorn to Ascend — offered in a variety of colors and sizes. Bjornsen said the poles can be customized for the needs of each individual buyer. They range in price from $139 to $289.
During his competitive career, Erik Bjornsen won more than a dozen national championships and was often the top American finisher on the intensely competitive World Cup race circuit. He twice represented the U.S. in the Olympics, in 2014 and 2018, along with his sister Sadie. He retired in 2020 but has stayed active as a runner and skier.
Marine Bjornsen grew up in France, where she competed for the French National Biathlon team for more than 10 years, raced on the Biathlon World Cup team, and won many national titles. She moved to Anchorage, Alaska, and competed on the NCAA circuit for the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Nordic skiing team, three times being named All-American. She then coached the University of Alaska Anchorage for four years and was named Nordic Coach of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. Like Erik, she has continued to compete in local racing events.
The Bjornsens recently had their first child, a daughter.
Hall skied on the Dartmouth College Nordic team and was a competitive rower for Dartmouth as well. He and his family split time between Seattle and Winthrop.
Looking to the next generation, the company is sponsoring local youth skiers Ben Kaufman and Aidan Sands, both of whom are competitive at the national level. They were on hand for the launch party, as were Hall, Simpson and other members of the Ratio Made design team. For more information, visit www.bjornto.com.