Inside DC Labs
Kinda like the Pentagon, but more kickers.
by Peter Barrett
DC Shoe Co. is serious about defining the future of snowboard boots, and built a fulltime testing facility to prove it: the DC Mountain Lab. Hidden away on 22 acres in Park City, Utah, the Mountain Lab is fast becoming the nirvana of snowboarding. This is a place for pro snowboarders and boot developers to ride, work, and relax together in a real mountain setting. This hands-on approach has resulted in significant product advancements in both boots and outerwear.
This private facility is the haven of DC Shoe Co. owner Ken Block. The entire facility stands as a shrine to snowboarding. The staircase from the mudroom to main floor also serves as a museum of snowboarding history. Most of the hardware and images belong to Ken, as he has been involved with snowboarding since the beginning. A lot of snowboarders have seen the Mountain Lab in snowboarding magazines and videos but few will be lucky enough to visit - the lab is invitation only.
The Mountain Lab is loaded with a hot-tub, heated deck, team bunker, and internet access for work and play. Two huskies share the secluded acreage with deer, moose, and porcupine. Visitors include pro snowboarders, research and development staff, and DC retailers. Because the snowboarding usually lasts into the night, there are plenty of opportunities to relax and recharge. Full video game and sound systems are available for kickin' it after dark. If a long day in the park hasn't worn you out there's always someone up for a game of full contact ping-pong.
Imagine your own private ski lodge with a snowboard park just out the back door. Over the last couple of seasons the park has evolved from a handful of obstacles to a full-blown terrain park; it rivals many resorts for challenge and variety. Chris Gunnarson, the designer of the Winter X Games parks and other world class courses, has come in to create a unique and daring playground. The park is located on its own hillside with a snowcat for grooming and jump building, as well as a rope-tow to get riders up the hill. Long rails, a steep staircase, curving boxes, tabletop gaps, and a discarded missile give snowboarders the opportunity to dial their style and test product at the same time. Make no mistake, this is not an entry-level park. All of these obstacles are make-or-break. If riders don't come ready to throw down, they get worked!
Team manager Brian Botts can often be found launching road-gaps on one of DC's tricked out snowmobiles. When not being a sledneck, he's involved with boot development. This close association with team and product ensures direct feedback to the designers. Some of the improvements demanded by the DC team have been gel padding in the tongue and toes of boots and refinements to the now famous Air Liner. Further testing has produced the incredibly light and low-profile Park Boot for winter 2006. The Park Boot enhances board feel and reduces weight for the most skate-shoe-like snowboard boot ever. Who would be better prepared to deliver such a boot than DC?
Another step in the product cycle is allowing DC retailers first peek at new boots and outerwear. These are the guys and girls that will be helping snowboarders pick out the best new gear. Everyone is more than willing to share their ideas; input on new items and ideas for refinements to existing product are given directly to DC's design team. Everybody benefits from all of the involvement in product development. When shop folks, including us snowboarders at Backcountry.com, are excited about new goods, they can share that stoke with other riders.
Another exciting development at the Mountain Lab is the filming of the new DC snowboarding video. This will be DC's first snow video. With a team including Travis Rice, Travis Parker, Devun Walsh, and amazing amateur Jake Welch, the action will be off the hook. The guys from Robot Food Productions are taking a year off from their award-winning snow series to put the DC video together; this will be the one video not to miss. Speaking of filming, Todd Richards, Bjorne Leines, and Travis Rice all filmed short blurbs for this year's Winter X Games at the Mountain Lab. Now you can catch a glimpse of this mythical land on a TV near you.
If all of this sounds to great to be true, just believe me it's there. The Mountain Lab is constantly evolving to meet the needs of DC and their team riders. In the future there will be more terrain to ride, bigger obstacles, and additions to the house. All of these improvements will make it even more relaxing and rewarding for those lucky enough to spend a day or two at the Lab.
Pretty sick eh
A view on the downfall of the US by 221: 'godzilla man. he's gonna show up and shit will hit the fan.'
ellermann -> i hope you realize you just threw yourselves a birthday party online. just think about that for a little while
~~Phunkin Phatt Phreerider~~