DPS Skis

dps-logoWhere does DPS come from? Where are the origins?

DPS is about the mystery encountered during a slide across deep snow. It is the inspiration for everything we create.

It fuels a reverence for mountains, storms, and the people who sculpt powder culture.

It leads us on a search for distant ranges and on a quest for the most progressively shaped and built skis on the planet.

stephan-drakeDPS’ founder Stephan Drake is a pro-skier and current Patagonia Ambassador, and built his life around traveling the globe in search of snow (from summers in Argentina to winters in Alaska). Stephan combined his passion and obsession for the perfect turn with the quest for the perfect ski. At the time of DPS’ birth in 2005, there wasn’t a ski brand that combined the 100% lifestyle dedication to the sport and none that were pushing the boundaries of design, and material science to make next level skis.

How and when did you have the idea and how did it go from there?

DPS was gestated in the mountains of South America, Alaska, and Europe while chasing powder storms. The cultural basis for the brand was built around a culture of chasing that perfect run in the perfect snow. Stephan approached high performance powder skiing with the same seriousness as a racer would in terms of training and equipment. In 2005 Stephan Drake (founder) met Peter Turner and a partnership was born. Combining Peter’s background as a leading engineer in the ski-manufacturing world and Stephan’s vision and powder psyche, the duo created skis using space age materials and innovative shapes. 

Some backstory:

Tired of tired of trekking around the backcountry and wrestling skis that weigh 14lbs/pair. He wanted a light, ultra-high performance version of the metal laminate clunkers he was skiing on.

Realizing that surfing and snowboarding have it right—light equipment is best for both energy conservation and high-performance riding, he realized carbon was the ingredient to make it happen in skis.

wailer-dpsWhere were the biggest challenges and how did you solve them? 

DPS builds the world’s only prepreg carbon sandwich construction ski. Prepreg carbon employs the same carbon used in fighter jets and formula one race cars, and is incredibly hard to work with and expensive. In the beginning years there were a host of technical problems associated with the material: from twist, to breakage, to top sheet bubbles… These were solved through a lot of hard work, trail and error, and engineering. There were times that we thought we were crazy for continuing to pursue the idea of the carbon ski, especially after so many failures, but we persevered and came out the other end with a truly unique and differentiated ski.

The construction provides a ski that is 30 percent stiffer, lighter, and more powerful than traditional metal-laminate skis. It took four years to develop and mature production, and then the company began to grow and expand its distribution. It takes three times as long to build a pair of DPS Skis than conventional skis.

Where do you see the potential of a brand like dps?

DPS prides itself on Design+Roots+Engineering. We were spawned out of the core grassroots movement in freeskiing and created a brand and line of skis that we wish to ski, built with the highest production quality. However, Powder is the snow at the top of the pyramid. We live for powder, but are skiers who ski all types of snow: we carve, we jump, we jib, we ski the resort, we tour. We attempt to build skis that are prefect for all of the terrain and snow combinations that we ski as skiers. In the coming years we will be placing as much emphasis in promoting our innovative Cassiar line as the Lotus line.

dps3At DPS we view the ski, skier, and ski designer as an intimately connected triangle. DPS skis are beyond sporting goods; they are intimate tools for our sport– like a sword is to a samurai.It comes from an intimate and real connection to skiing as an expression of our spirits.

With whom do you work together to make all this reality? Can you give me an insight on how thinking and production work for dps?

A day within the DPS headquarters is quite the experience. It’s a family of like-minded skiers, who all spend time with each other both on mountain and off the mountain. Our office is full of dogs and constant jokes, and soccer (aka European futbol) banter daily. Often times prototype skis are measured and tweaked on the conference table after a morning on the hill. New ideas and innovations are thrown around constantly. When combined with our newly opened Utah factory at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, we can turn ideas into reality and be skiing the same day. Much of the design work is still completed by Stephan, then he and Peter Turner, DPS’ Director of Engineering build samples. DPS employees and athletes then test and report back on their findings.

Side note: When developing our new Pure3 construction, the Utah Factory proved to be invaluable. DPS Directory of Engineering, Peter Turner built 20 skis of the same model/length, all named after pizza toppings, all of which were 192cm Wailer 99′s with varying construction variations. What ensued was both productive and entertaining as the group made hot laps on great early season conditions—skiing and providing feedback in a blind test to improve upon our award winning construction.


About the marketing, what’s your strategy compared to other (bigger) brands?

We have a saying at DPS. “We built skis for those who live and breathe the sport.” Often times bigger brands are forced to change shapes, top sheets, and constructions to appease market segments. At DPS Technology, Shaping, and Design are a central part of that constant movement towards the perfect ski. We will always remain true to our roots, and not be caught up in the branches of fashion and trend. We try stay true to our roots, our culture, and our passion for technology and perfection.

Where is the focus of dps?

We believe our design and technology is unmatched within the ski industry. We’re never complacent nor will we ever be. From producing the first pre preg carbon sandwich construction ski, to the first rockered ski with sidecut, to today launching Pure3 construction and Spoon Technology and now diving deeply into the hard snow world, we are always at the forefront of ski technology and performance.

Where do you want to bring the brand, where do you see it now in 2/5/10 years?

Our vision has always been to create perfect tools for those who live a life riding mountains, and we’re driven by the idea that one perfect run in perfect snow can change your life. In order to be true to that vision, we need to keep growing. Growth fuels development of skis, materials, flex patterns, shapes and brand. We never want to become a mega ski brand that pushes volume and rental skis– that’s not our vision and not true to our roots, but we do want to grow as much as possible in a sustainable way according to our mission statement. In that way, we can keep improving to develop a deeper and more powerful brand with increasingly better tools

You can read more about DPS and our skis on www.dpsskis.com