Ode to the Craftsmen

A silent skier squints into a rapidly intensifying storm, attempting to make out the remnants of a meandering skin track through the decreasing visibility. With the ridgeline gained and swirling snow erasing the Little Cottonwood Canyon uptrack, climbing skins are pulled and bindings are adjusted for downhill travel. It’s apparent it will be whiteout, braille skiing until a few lonely pines emerge towards the bottom of the first pitch. A quick tap of the skis sends a cloud of stellar dendrites into the air and the first floaty turn is realized. As skis rise to the surface and quickly regain the fall line, complete calmness unifies the mind and soul. The apex moment is achieved. 

A hard left is made into the relative safety of the stand of trees seen from above and the skis’ top sheets are revealed, triggering the skier’s imagination. Looking down, an examination of the process it took for that exact pair of skis to arrive in the mountains that snowy morning is quickly underway. What started as an idea and a set of schematics quickly evolved into three-dimensional pieces of wood, thin strands of steel, intricately woven layers of carbon, specifically engineered foam composite, and sheets of hard plastic. Those elements, when sitting alone, don’t add much value to a person’s life, but in the hands of a true craftsman they are united in a way that brings the ultimate joy to certain individuals; to skiers.

The craftsman who has the ability to transform a collection of seemingly unrelated parts into a technologically supreme tool is an unsung hero, a savant of sorts. The type of person who quietly spends the majority of their waking hours meticulously toiling away to create a dynamic piece of engineered art to be enjoyed by the mind and soul. These individuals each have their own story, they come from different backgrounds and their life experiences run the full gamut, but they all have something in common: they made a conscious decision to join the ranks of the humble crew at the DPS factory in downtown Salt Lake City. 

Not long ago this crew of thankless saints was set into a tailspin as they were told their workplace was going to relocate. Imagine, hundreds of thousands of pounds of intricate machinery, carefully organized storage racks, personal effects, and memories would need to be moved. The task was a daunting one. Lists were made, operational manuals consulted, and questions were asked – many of which went unanswered. 

Although the new factory was just four miles away, it felt as if it could have been on the other side of the continent. Once moved, the machines were reassembled, and with insight only a skilled operator could provide, a new, more efficient workflow was established. The build sequence was re-evaluated, problems were solved and progress was made.

The hard work of the DPS factory crew oftentimes goes unrecognized. It’s easy to buy a new pair of skis and take them out on a powder day, have one helluva good time and then casually throw them in the back of a truck until the next snowfall. Without the quiet luminaries hard-at-work just half an hour down valley, the skier – tucked neatly into the stand of pines excitedly awaiting a second pitch of perfect powder – wouldn’t have the thirst for life in the whiteroom that fuels dreams. A large thank you goes out to the craftsmen that fulfill our unspoken desires. Your hard work is more appreciated than you could imagine.

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