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DPS Ski Factory Tour, by Jim Kenney
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Updated 4 months ago
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
7 months ago


Yesterday, 4/15/19 I was able to take a 90 minute tour of the DPS ski factory here in Salt Lake City with MarzNC!  Our tour guide was Nick Pascoe, DPS Product Manager.  It was the first time I’d been to a serious ski production facility like this and it was interesting and fun.  I don’t own any DPS skis.  They are available nationwide, but are better known in the Rockies.  To give you a sense of their place in the market, their best selling ski is 112mm wide underfoot.

Touring the DPS factory, photo by Jim Kenney


DPS has been around for about 13-14 years and they employ approximately 50 people during peak production periods.  I’m not sure if you’d categorize them as a high-end boutique ski, but they have a strong reputation in Utah for a top quality product.  They moved two months ago to a bigger production site here in Salt Lake City and have the goal of bringing all manufacturing processes in-house by 2020.  All DPS skis have a wood core (Aspen or Balsa) with carbon laminate construction and epoxy layers.  

We were able to observe a stockpile of wood core material, then saw a team of employees assembling base layers with edges and epoxying appropriate laminates to create a ski.  It’s a very labor intensive and hands-on process for sure!  They have six functional ski presses and many press boxes for each type of ski shape/model they build.  After assembly, the skis go into the press for about an hour, then they receive additional treatment on finished surfaces and edges to create the final product.

Jim Kenney’s layman’s attempt to categorize the DPS product line: 

{DPS skis are broken out by width and turning radius.  The primary men’s DPS product line consists of a pair of powder skis that are 124mm and 119mm underfoot (Lotus and Koala models), both have a 23m turning radius.  In the all-mountain category (Wailer models), they make 15m turning radius skis in 112mm and 100mm widths underfoot and longer turning radius skis (19-22m) in 106mm and 110mm underfoot.  They have four “carving” skis (Cassiar models) ranging in widths between 79mm and 94mm underfoot.  The turning radius of these skis is between 13.5 and 20m depending on width and length.  Men’s skis range in length from 160cm  to 191cm

The women’s product line includes a similar width/radius breakdown, starting in the all-mountain category with skis ranging from 112mm to 99mm underfoot with turning radius of 19 to 13.5m (Yvette, Zelda, and Nina models).  The women’s carving skis (Uschi models) range in widths between 82mm and 94mm underfoot.  The turning radius of these skis is between 13.5 and 19m depending on width and length.  Women’s skis range in length from 146cm to 178cm. 

DPS characterizes their ski construction as Alchemist carbon fiber laminate with Aspen wood cores.  They also have an additional construction category called Foundation, which produces a damper, smoother, more forgiving version of many of the aforementioned models and they make touring versions of several models with lighter weight balsa wood cores.  Rounding out the line, they make junior skis (Grom models) in 99mm and 87mm widths.}

We also received a little tutorial on Phantom, a proprietary waxless polymer treatment offered by DPS that is applied once and permanently alters the chemistry of your ski base to make it harder and faster.  This product has applications with almost all skis from any manufacturer.  It can be self-applied at home or professionally applied at select DPS dealers.  It sounds like a useful product for recreational skiers and snowboarders who want to skip the hassle of frequent wax jobs.  I’m told it is compatible with routine ski maintenance, will withstand base grinds, and even improve the glide of frequently tuned and conventionally waxed skis. 

I have a daughter who last year acquired a previously owned pair of DPS skis.  I’m going to share this report with her.  And I am now officially jealous of her ski quiver :-)

DPS in action, photo by Jim Kenney

7 months ago

Nice report. I had a chance to demo a pair of their Cassiars at Snowbird last season. They were a quick, fun ski on Chip’s Run groomers and side adventures. We don’t see too many of those in these parts. 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
7 months ago

Glad you could join the tour!  Great that you took notes.

The reason I got an invitation was that I talked to the DPS rep at the Alta Demo Day on April 6.  Since I’ve been using Phantom on my Absolute Joys since January 2018, I had plenty of experience to share.  DPS had round Phantom stickers on their skis that were treated with Phantom.  Asking about getting stickers led to the invitation.  Since my ski buddy drives to Alta, I could borrow his car to drive into the city.

I first demo’d DPS skis in April 2014.  A friend who is an expert skier and works in business finance likes DPS skis and the way the company is run.  My favorite is the Nina 99 @159.  But usually the demo skis at Alta Ski Shop are all sold by March, if not February.  At this point, I don’t consider DPS a niche company.  They are selling all over the Rockies and increasingly in Japan.  Also have a solid presence in Australia because many advanced/expert Australians ski the powder in Japan on a regular basis.

7 months ago

Is Japan known for powder?  I lived there for 8 years but I didn’t ski then.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
7 months ago

Keith_Moon wrote:

Is Japan known for powder?  I lived there for 8 years but I didn’t ski then.

See the source image
 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
7 months ago

Keith_Moon wrote:

Is Japan known for powder?  I lived there for 8 years but I didn’t ski then.

The Australians talk about powder in Japan a lot.  It’s deep and fluffy from what I’ve read.

https://www.ski.com.au/xf/forums/japan.51/

7 months ago

Nice.  A couple close friends work as guides there in the Japan Alps.  I wish I could go visit.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Blister Gear did another interview with Stephan Drake, CEO of DPS, in July.  In the beginning, Drake talks a little bit about the new facilities in SLC and the advantages of bringing most of the production in-house.

https://blisterreview.com/podcasts/19-20-dps-skis-lineup-with-stephan-drake-ep-56

TOPICS & TIMES:

  • Building skis in Salt Lake City, Utah (2:45)
  • What is “DPS Dreamtime”? (7:17)
  • Foam & DPS’ new construction (11:01)
  • DPS Wailer 100 RP vs 112 RP (25:10)
  • DPS’s “C2“ vs “RP” (29:30)
  • The redesigned DPS Wailer 106 (35:12)
  • DPS freestyle skis / DPS Koala 119 (36:25)
  • Update on the DPS Ski boot (41:10)
  • Update on DPS Phantom (44:27)

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