4FRNT Skis – Matt Sterbenz & Jason Levinthal (Ep.46)

There’s been another shakeup in the ski world. Today, Matt Sterbenz, the founder of 4FRNT Skis, and Jason Levinthal, the founder of LINE Skis, Full Tilt Boots, and most recently, J Skis, have announced that Levinthal is acquiring 4FRNT.

Jason Levinthal (J Skis) and Matt Sterbenz (4FRNT Skis) on the Blister Podcast
Jason Levinthal (J Skis) and Matt Sterbenz (4FRNT Skis).

So what does this acquisition mean for 4FRNT — what changes, and what stays the same?

To answer these and other questions, I spoke with Levinthal and Sterbenz to talk about the deal, what brought it about, what we can expect going forward, and the state of the ski industry in general.


  • So what exactly just happened here? (2:52)
  • Will this affect where 4FRNT skis are produced? What changes are we going to see? (11:41)
  • What does it mean to be an “indie” ski brand in today’s arena? (15:20)
  • When did you guys first start talking about the possibility of teaming up? (21:17)
  • So what’s going to change and what’s going to stay the same in the next season or two? (25:18)
  • Matt, what’s your favorite LINE ski or J Ski that you’ve seen or been on? (29:15)
  • Do you think we’ll see more acquisitions like this in the coming years — indies teaming up? (35:27)
  • Closing Thoughts (43:45)

8 comments on “4FRNT Skis – Matt Sterbenz & Jason Levinthal (Ep.46)”

  1. Awesome podcast – interesting to learn about what is happening behind the scenes…just happened to stumble onto it while on 4Front website saw the news….maybe a 187 Devastator for 2019 ?….they or JE mentioned something new from 4Front called MSP ? or something like that in a 100mm waist – I cant find it any thoughts ?

    • Thanks for the support. The Devastator is currently under the microscope for 18/19 to get a couple new sizes as well as shed some weight. We figured out a lightweight option for the Uptrack Series and Eric Hjorleifsons’ shapes (Renegade, HOJI and Raven) last year and we’re now looking to expand that approach into some of the all mountain skis, Devastator one of them, but for this season, we are sticking with the same shapes and weights as tested here by Blister: 164, 174, 184, 194. The MSP is new for this season and its a play on the original shape that started it all for us 15 years ago. The original MSP was more park orientated but it pushed the limits for its time with being twin tipped, stiff, sidewall and mid 90mm waist. The new MSP is a modern twist for this same category, which is proving to be the most well rounded category in skiing. 99mm waist, camber running surface with our neoprene rubber rocker tip and low rise tail, backed with titanal construction and @ 181cm, a 18m radius. We threw at this ski everything we’ve learned in the years building skis; developing initial geometry’s and flex’s in our SLC White Room, then shipping reference photo’s to Elan (our producer in Europe) to tune in construction and materials. Its already an Award Winning ski in its first year and like the Dev, it too will be refined to see where we can shed some grams for future versions.

  2. Been out of the ski game for 15 years. Used to be able to go all out and do anything I wanted on skis and board. Lived in all the wrong places since then, plus when I had access to snow I just jumped on a snowboard. Finally made the decision and moved to a better location and that skiing is required, although split boards pique my interest now to. The skin game is awesome freedom. Got geared up. First season bought some rossignol soul 7 based on reviews and an older ski salesmen talked them up. Was like wtf after a sporadic season on them. Almost everybody who I talked to on the slopes loved them. They are a popular ski. Then I looked at them and checked out how they were skiing. I then realized why they get we’re getting the reviews. These were average people and their context and expectation is 100% different than mine.

    On to search for product and people who get it on the slopes. 4frnt. Got some devs, only have 3 days on them (groomed, then monster powder) and feel they are a pretty good ski and look forward to wearing them out. They are 100% more capable than the soul 7. Got some Ravens for this coming season for skin games. One can tell by the 4frnt skis and their people that these people are serious big time skiers (also my favorite backcountry skiing). I look forward to trying their other offerings.

    May have to get cable and a tv again just to watch the weather channel 24/7 again like the old days.

    One piece of advice is that I had heck trying to find a shop that could mount tyrolia demos and adrenaline bindings on 4frnt skis. So yeah, get those skis out there and jigs. Most shops are big brand only. Hopefully micro brews are the future like beer.

    • Yo Jack, your Soul 7 reality is shared among many more capable skiers like you out there. We see it clearly, now so do you, and one skier at a time we’ll retrain the perception that the ski on the cover of a luxury hospitality magazine in a doctors office isn’t likely the ski for you, rather the ski being marketed to you. I’m stoked to hear your satisfaction with our Devastator, and look forward to your review on the Ravens’. However I wouldn’t bother with your TV, just get on NOAA and study the models through Weatherunderground for the commercial free beta to get pitted this season. See you out there brother!

  3. The best question you didn’t ask?
    What happens to a “rider-owned and rider-driven brand” when it’s no longer owned by the riders?
    Check out Kye’s instagram announcement (13 Dec 17): “I’m happy to have learned so much with my experience at 4frnt which was a brand with the strongest core ethos up until the company’s majority just recently got sold.”

    • Hi Iain, thats a great question. Kye represents one facet of our team history and product design. Same as David, Wiley and others before them: Steele Spence, Niklas Karlstrom, Vincent Dorion, CR Johnson, and Cody Barnhill. These athletes had a huge impact on our ski shapes, our brand philosophy and identity, but just because they have since moved on or retired, doesn’t mean thats the end. Skiers like Eric Hjorleifson, Thayne Rich and myself, are still extremely active in the company, each with current skis in the market and each with new skis coming to market for 18/19. Its the cycle we’ve been operating since day 1. Sure when J Lev comes into being the majority owner and these changes occur simultaneously, there is reason for question, and to that I thank you for bringing it up, but rest assured we are as committed to our team, and their role in design more today than ever before. We literally purged everything in our SLC HQ that was not ski manufacturing related so that our core focus can be solely on the White Room, bringing the athletes in to refine and create to new shapes. Its what makes me most happy, and I think what makes our brand stand out, and we’ll never let that fall off in defining who we are. Thanks for posing the question and drop a line next time your in SLC to check out the White Room.

  4. Hi Matt. Thanks for the reply. Sure, I understand, riders come and go and I know 4FRNT still has a really great team. But the concern with any take-over is that it ultimately changes or corrodes the ethos – and that seemed to be what Kye was suggesting. It would be really sad to see 4FRNT become just another ‘brand’ with ‘sponsored athletes’, so just tell J not to worry – ‘sometimes stupid’ is just part of the 4FRNT DNA – and, for all of us, keep him out of Hoji’s workshop!

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