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Springtime In Valle Nevado

Note: Several weeks ago, Stephan boarded a flight in Salt Lake City to Santiago to meet up with Chilean friend, DPS rep, and Chief Heli Ski Guide at Valle Nevado, Claudio Iglesias and our young ripping Koala member, Piers Solomon, who had been posted up in Bariloche for the season. Words: Stephan Drake We have been working arduously on the technology behind our carbon skis for close to a decade now. Those first wild years marked an unrelenting quest to tame the challenges posed by carbon fiber’s integration into snow skis. As has been well documented in the DPS story, the process of building a 100 percent carbon part is relatively easy compared to the challenges posed by integrating carbon fiber into the various other disparate materials that make up the ski recipe: metals, plastic, and wood. For years we suffered through many marathon days of R+D that crushed the soul down to an atom. We experienced the hair burning toll of development imposed on a bootstrapped bank account. We collected rooms full of scrapped skis, until one day about four years ago, driven by perseverance and art, the laundry list of carbon-induced problems subsided, the clouds began to break, and manufacturing consistency emerged. The resulting Pure: Carbon + Nano skis have been truly novel and the first of its kind on earth; they are both light and exceptionally powerful - two qualities that haven’t previously coexisted in skis. They accessed new levels of rebound and torsional stiffness that no other metal or glass ski can match. The skis were light—which invoked creavitity, and provided quick transitions as your skis launch under your body when unweighted, with new levels of pop and control in the air. Now, we are entering another exciting phase of DPS’ ski development. They say the devil is in the detail, and we are in the process of taking those next, detailed steps towards that ever shifting target on the horizon—the perfect ski, the perfect ride. It’s that subsequent 10 percent that is almost as facinating as the initial deep struggle to overcome the orginal, sizable manufacturing hurdles that carbon skis demanded. [caption id="attachment_1321" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The test skis. New shapes and new technologies tested by Claudio, Piers, and myself. It was a fun session: sleep in, wait for the snow to soften just a touch, shred hard for six hours, cook a nice dinner, sleep then repeat."][/caption] Our current R+D focus is on the subtleties that will result in ride characteristic improvements that will leave you grinning more widely and confidently with every single turn. We are delving deeper into our flex profiles, deeper into the biofeedback and ride quality of our construction matrix, and deeper into specific tuning setups that mate specifically with the very unique qualities of a Pure carbon construction ski. The only way to make that evolution happen is extensive time on the snow. During the North American summer it usually means junkets down to South America. Summer testing has yielded significant R+D breakthroughs in the past, and this year was no exception. South America is also another connector in the cultural story that has shaped the brand. Storm chasing in the Andes has been a big influencer on the travel, friends, and the ridicuous untracked days—all contributors to the aesthetic and style of DPS powder surfing. [caption id="attachment_1324" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The view from Claudio's apartment at Vina del Mar. Showers, sleep, and catching-up post flight. Vina is two hours from the mountains. Chile is amazing like that, it’s possible to ride powder and waves in the same day."][/caption] The conditions for this trip were decidedly low tide and springy - the end of a dismal season that marked the second consecutive year of drought for the Andes. For our purposes, however, it wasn’t a deal breaker. We were able to enjoy a casual but productive week testing on hard/soft snow of Valle’s groomers, and came back with more data and direction to keep tweaking the recipe. Stay tuned for these updates in 2013… for now here's our lighthearted video recap from Chile: