Is it a trend? Scarpa will become another backcountry ski boot company to make a product development and PR agreement with a well known freeskier, in this case Chris Davenport. As long-term observers of trends in ski mountaineering, we’re finding this to be a fascinating development.
A trend to stiffer “beefier” boots has been alive for some time now — we now have models from the major boot makers that do fit the needs of many aggressive skiers. For example, Scarpa themselves have three boots in their “Freeride” category that offer substantial downhill performance (see Mobe, Hurricane & Typhoon). Also see our Mobe review here at WildSnow.com.
That said, as a gear modder myself I’ll admit that _anything_ used for backcountry skiing can stand improvement. In the freeride skiing category, the usual European boot designers may not be totally up to the task of making those improvements. Reason being that the huge European market is incredibly sensitive to weight and uphill performance. The weight-comfort mantra is part of those Euro designers DNA, and changing your genes is hard.
As Davenport is quoted below: “a product for a specific set of needs.. doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace.”
Indeed, perhaps the holy grail is a boot that skis EXACTLY the same as an alpine boot, is as comfortable going uphill as a classic ski touring boot, and weighs on the floaty side of things. What do you WildSnowers think? Are “freeride” ski touring boots reaching a mature state of design, or is the field still open for major innovation?
Press release follows, lightly edited for brevity and clarity:
SCARPA collaborates with Chris Davenport to launch new freeride boot program. Premier big-mountain skier to be intimately involved in product development process for new SCARPA freeride line.
BOULDER, Colo. (Sept. 10, 2012) – SCARPA began a long-term partnership with renowned big mountain skier Chris Davenport in August 2012. Along with serving as a SCARPA ambassador and testing new SCARPA products, Davenport will be a key member of the product development team for a new line of SCARPA freeride boots that will be available in Fall 2013.
Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished big-mountain skiers in the world, Davenport said he was attracted to work with the SCARPA brand not only because of its world-class reputation, but also because of the opportunity to be intimately involved in the development and testing of a new, innovative line of ski boots specifically for the freeride market.
“I’m a product guy, a gear geek if you will. I love equipment, I love tweaking it, and I believe that you can always make a better product,” Davenport said. “SCARPA is super well respected in the world of skiing, so for me, this a chance to work with an already great line of products, but also a chance to help create something innovative and new.”
“There’s very definitely an opportunity in the freeride category – a product for a specific set of needs that doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace,” he said. “I’m not just joining SCARPA, I’m joining SCARPA to be involved in the development of the strongest boot line yet specifically built for the needs of freeride and sidecountry skiers.”
Davenport began working closely with the SCARPA product development team in August with the goal of launching SCARPA’s innovative new ski boot collection to the world market at the 2013 Outdoor Retailer, SIA and ISPO shows in January and February.
Another factor that attracted Davenport to working with SCARPA was meeting the Parisotto family that owns the company, along with the SCARPA North America team, and seeing their passion for developing game-changing products for skiing and mountain sports.
“We’re all product people, we love having the right product, the best thing out there, the most high performance thing we can have,” Davenport said. “So I think that also makes this a great match.”
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.