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Category: Spark in the Field, Spark World Wide.

Chris CoulterChris Coulter is a busy man these days spending over 130 days each season on the snow. His life in the snowboard world has taken him from being a well-known, pro shredder in the early 2000’s to a highly respected, year-round snowboard guide working in some of the most iconic mountains on the planet. He follows the endless winter so many of us dream about – spending the first half of the season in Colorado, spring in Alaska, and summering in the Andes of South America. Chris was nice enough to take a few minutes to chat with us about what he’s been up to, and what is on tap for him.

How long have you been snowboarding? I have been snowboarding for 26 years.

What about splitboarding? I’d say about 10 seasons.

Chris Coulter Roped Up

Photo: @cdavenski

What are you up to these days? I guide at Silverton Mountain in Colorado December through mid-March, then at SEABA Heli in Alaska mid-March through April. Working with a variety of clients in different mountains and snow packs keeps me really engaged. It is truly a pleasure to get to work for these operations; they have helped me grow immensely as a professional. In the summer I work at SASS Global Travel (SGT) and Sled Chile in South America. I spend a little more time on my splitboard during the summer months which is a great way to mix up the year of boarding. The last five seasons I have been getting 130+ days on snow working with clients between North and South America.

That’s a lot of time on snow each year. What do you do when you have some down time? Usually when I am not chasing winter I can be found in Salt Lake City climbing, biking, or training for the next trip.

How long have you been guiding? I started working at SASS Global Travel Argentina seven years ago. This is year five with Silverton Mountain and SEABA Heli.

What or who got you into guiding? I was inspired by many of the great guides I worked with when I was doing a lot of traveling and filming early in my snowboard career. I was a client of SEABA Heli, SASS, and Silverton Mountain before I started working for them.

Chris Coulter

Photo: @cdavenski

What kind of training or certifications do you have as a guide? I have my Avalanche 2 and Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) medical. I am always learning more about mountain travel. I try to take advantage of any opportunity to learn that I can – skill specific classes, knowledgeable friends, and professional mentors all play a part in this.

What is the best part of what you do on a day to day basis? Typically I get to ride amazing powder. Often my clients are on vacation, so my day at work is very fun!

What is the most challenging aspect of your work? Seasonal work mixed with so much travel is tough. Being sure to get enough rest is also a challenge during long guiding stretches, especially as I try to add in my own recreational pursuits.

How important to you is the equipment you use on the mountain? Equipment is very important. When deep in the backcountry you depend greatly on your gear; having the right gear can make a huge difference on your experience. I spend a lot of days on my equipment and I’m hard on it. It’s super important to maintain your gear and to trust it.

As a pro snowboarder, the progression always seems to be new tricks, bigger lines etc… What is the progression and growth path for you as a guide? As a guide progression means spending time in avalanche terrain, making the best decisions you can, then analyzing your decisions and learning from any mistakes. Learning from mentors is a fun component in the process as well, both in the classroom and in the field.

Chris Coulter Shredding

Photo: @cdavenski

Thinking back to your days of filming – do you have any parts or seasons that really stick out to you or that you’re most proud of? Why? I think my first parts with Finger on Da Trigger’s “Represent” and Kingpin Productions’ “Brainstorm” stick out to me. I filmed both of these parts in one season, they were my first main stream parts. I was struggling to make it as a pro shred; these segments were a big break through for me. I am really proud to have been in any Absinthe film as they are an amazing crew to work with. Also, stoked to have filmed with Defective films owner Sean Johnson who is a legend; it was an honor to work with him and his buddies in Canada.

What was your first snowboard? My first board was a Burton Cruise 135. I actually still have it. The bindings are crazy skybacks that don’t fold down.

When was the last time you slid a hand rail? Urban, I think it was the rail garden, playing around about seven years ago. In the park I hit some rails two summers ago when we did not have much snow in South America.

Growing up, who did you look up to snowboarding? What about now? Growing up, Peter Line and Johan Olofsson. These days – Jeremy Jones, Xavier De La Rue, Forrest Shearer, Skylar Holgate, Andrew Burns, all my co-workers at Silverton Mountain.

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Who are your current sponsors? Spark R&D, Eddie Bauer, Jones Snowboards, Smith, Bluebird, Cheetah Factory Racing

What’s next for you? More family, friends, knowledge, powder, spines and couloirs!

Chris, thanks so much for your time. Good luck the rest of the season.

Photo: @cdavenski

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Category: Avalanche Education, Spark in the Field.

Words: Clark Corey

December, January and February are busy months for avalanche education in North America. As March rolls around, there’s a whole new generation of backcountry enthusiasts who are excited to get out and use their newfound knowledge. But, just because you’ve completed your avalanche course, does that mean you’re good to go?

For a recent graduate of any course, whether it be an awareness course, a level 1 or a level 2, it’s imperative to remember that there is still a lot to learn. Creating a solid baseline of backcountry knowledge involves getting the education from formal training, and learning the right way to do many things. But just as important, riders need to apply this to everyday touring, and gain practical experience. There’s no shortcut here, you just have to be diligent, use your skills, and go riding!

Avalanche Course

Get Out!

Formal education goes hand in hand with real life experience. It’s one thing to talk about metamorphism in class, then look at grains in a snowpit, but it can really click when you get to watch the snowpack change over the course of an entire season.

Splitboarding

Sure the concept of “just get out” sounds simple and obvious, but as a co-instructor of mine put it “this knowledge has an expiration date”. If you don’t get out and use it, you will certainly forget it. I’ve run into several past students a year after taking a course, and when I’ve asked, “have you been getting out?” the response has been, “no, I haven’t gotten out since the course”. Get out with your friends and make some decisions, look at the snow, and talk about travel protocol. Try to get out with both people who have more experience than you, as well as, folks who have a similar level of knowledge – so you’re forced to work together. The more you do this practice in the field, the more fluid it will become.

digging pits in the backcountry

Know What’s Going On

Keep track of the avalanche forecast multiple times a week, and better yet, every day. Jumping blindly into a random forecast the day you’re getting out makes a lot less sense than knowing what has happened leading up to that day. You’ll learn a lot just by staying plugged-in, as avy centers tend to explain why conditions are what they are, and what weather events lead up to this, which can help connect the dots. Think about what the problems and hazards are, and look for these while in the mountains so you can start to translate field observations to avalanche conditions. Take note that your local avalanche center isn’t just a one way street – they love to hear what you’re seeing out there. By submitting an observation, this helps to consolidate your thoughts on the day, and boil it down to the main problems that you observed. This reflection process is a valuable part of the learning process.

Avalanche course next step Avalanche course next step

.Practice Makes Perfect

This goes for all skills, but one you should seriously consider not getting rusty on is rescue. It’s one of those skills that you want to be good at, but never have to use. And by practice I mean not just the beacon part, but getting the probe and shovel out of your pack, and performing these steps too.

Avalanche course

Be Humble

Courses are jam packed with information, and it’s common to walk away feeling much more prepared. Although true, be careful with over confidence and always ease into situations. Remember to rationalize decisions with plenty of pre-planning and current observations –  and know that being conservative is never the wrong answer. Courses aren’t intended to unlock bigger lines, but rather to help people realize when it’s safe or not safe to enter steep avalanche terrain. Having more experience and education doesn’t mean that pushing the in-between conditions is now okay, it just means you now know better.

snowpit analysis

Read Up

There are tons of good resources available, which will likely make a lot more sense after spending a weekend learning about avalanches in a course. Books like Tremper’s Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is great as it covers all the fundamentals and then some. For more advanced and technical material check out the Avalanche Handbook by David McClung and Peter A. Schaerer. Note, I advise people to get a strong hold on the basics first, before delving deeper into more complex subjects, as this can just add unnecessary clutter to decision making

More Education

After you’ve had some time to hone your baseline skills, there are always opportunities to learn more from another avalanche course. There’s likely a course up the ladder, a refresher, or a one day rescue course, so stay aware of local classes and be thinking about your next education goal.

About the Author

Clark Corey is an avalanche educator based out of Bozeman, MT and works for the American Avalanche Institute.

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Category: News, Products.

For more information, please see the company press release below.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2016

Spark R&D Announces a Revolution in Splitboard Training with the SplitbordicTrack

Bozeman, Mont – Spark R&D announced today that it is releasing a revolutionary splitboard workout machine called the SplitbordicTrack.

“We couldn’t be more excited to release this new product to the world of splitboarders,” explains Will Ritter, owner and lead designer at Spark R&D. “Now everyone can enjoy the substantial health benefits of splitboard touring from pretty much anywhere, anytime of year.”

The SplitbordicTrack weighs a feathery 62 pounds and has wheels facilitating easy transportation. The machine also features adjustable front legs for those looking for steeper climb and a more calorie-smashing workout.

The ShredBro System ™ may be the best kept secret in the workout world. The computerized personal performance monitor has all the bells and whistles of a modern day smart phone with distance tracking capabilities, an LCD display screen, and super-positive voice prompts – move over SIRI.

“We’ve been developing this technology over the last 4 years at Spark R&D,” says Ritter. “We’ve kept this project very close to the chest and under wraps because we knew how big it was going to be when we released it to the public. We plan to change the world with this machine.”

The product is set to hit the market in early June, just as the snow is disappearing in the Northern Hemisphere. Company officials explained that pre-orders are already outpacing their original forecasts.

###

Media Inquiries:
Dan Ventura – dan@sparkrandd.com

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Category: Cool Stuff, Spark in the Field, Spark World Wide.

Connections Film Project

Rafael Pease Profile 300x300My name is Rafael Pease and I’m a 21 year old splitboarder, burgeoning mountaineer, film producer, and student. I go to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder and splitboard as much as I can. I’m obsessed with it.

This winter I’m combining my love of splitboarding and my love of film making with the Connections Film project. There are many reasons why I helped create this project with fellow Spark R&D Ambassador, splitboarder, and activist, Tamo Campos; the most obvious one being that it gives me the opportunity to travel and explore the world. I love splitboarding, meeting new people, and exploring!

Connections is more than just another ‘bangers’ snowboard flick, this film documentary has a twist to it. I want to connect the film with my style of traveling and splitboarding. I always try to achieve a better understanding about the places I travel to, and the people I meet there. I want to know what the environmental issues are in certain regions, learn about the cultural traditions of the people that live there, and really get to know the people who live where I travel on a more personal level. I want to connect.

Connections Film

Rafael and Tamo share a snack in the pow fields

With this film the goal is to of course do some epic splitboarding, but also to show many of the unique aspects of the regions we are visiting. We will give the communities a platform to share their culture, and to voice the challenges they face in a changing world.

The first leg of this journey brought us to Japan and the north island of Hokkaido. The people are the friendliest I have ever met in my life. We had the privilege of interviewing a diverse group of really interesting north islanders. We spoke with descendants of the Ainu people about governmental land restrictions, a blueberry farmer who protects the island’s largest trees from developers, as well as nuclear activists and sheep farmers.

Connections Film

Activists

No matter how different our backgrounds were, it was amazing to connect and relate with the people of Hokkaido on environmental issues. It was a common thread that bound us all – we all work to try and make the world a better place. The passion they displayed for the issues was inspirational; we’re proud to help them tell their unique stories.

Connections Film Interview

Real connections were made during the interview process

We did, of course, do some splitboarding too. And by some, I mean a lot. Most of our days began at 6am and ended well after 6pm. We were splitboarding all over the Niseko backcountry area and deep into Daisetsuzan National Park. The snow was some of the lightest, driest, and deepest I’ve ever ridden. If you make it to Japan, bring a snorkel!

Mt. Yotei

Secret location on Mt. Yotei

One of the coolest and most unique aspects of Japan (and there are tons), are the onsens or hot springs. After a twelve hour day, the crew and I would often stop on the way home to relax and rejuvenate with some hot spring water. By the time we’d make it back to our pad, we had just enough energy to cook some noodles on our electric water heaters and prep our packs for the next day.

We are now back stateside and have been filming here in Colorado for a solid month. I will be using my spring break to go film in British Columbia if the snow is good. I’m also planning trips to Alaska in May, and Chile sometime over the summer.

poeta busto2

A monk contemplates the meaning of life, connections and deep pow

I have put together an amazing crew of cinematographers, photographers, mountaineers, and shredders. These folks share our passion for splitboarding, environmentalism, and exploration. I am beyond stoked right now with how the project has started and I look forward to where it’s going.

team

The Connections Film Crew

Follow along on our social channels for weekly updates on what we are up to, and what is coming next. Our goal is to have the project filmed, edited and ready to show next fall.

Website: www.connectionsfilm.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/connectionsfilm

Instagram: @ConnectionsFilm

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Category: Cool Stuff, Spark World Wide.

Nayla TawaNayla Tawa is a world traveler, snowboarder, and avid splitboarder with an ambitious spirit that guides her from one adventure to the next. In 2012 she set off for Kyrgyzstan to film a documentary centered on Hayat Tarikov and his efforts to create a sustainable ski industry in the remote mountain village of Arslanbob.

Perhaps you noticed the word ‘return’ in the title. This could imply a follow up visit, perhaps a chance to check on the progress of a project long since completed. But this is not a follow up visit – this is a return to complete a project that never began.

On her third day in Kyrgyzstan, Nayla and her group were involved in a very serious car accident. The wreck left Nayla and the Nayla Tawa post accidentother team members severely injured and in terrible shape. With inadequate medical facilities and transportation; she spent two days duct-taped to a snowboard (with no pain meds) before she and her crew were evacuated.

Four years, multiple surgeries, and countless hours of rehabilitation later, Nayla is returning to finish what she started. Her team consists of experts in multiple fields, from pro skiers and medical trainers to backcountry guides, cinematographers and photographers.

Kyrgyzstan Group As stated above, the goal of this project is to help create a sustainable ski industry in Arslanbob. The mountains and terrain in Kyrgyzstan are world class – huge and coated in light snow all winter. However, the village is very difficult to access and lacks much of the basic necessities and infrastructure for winter tourism. The team will work with local guide Hayat Tarikov to teach members of the community, young and old, to ski and snowboard. For those who can already ski and ride, guide training will be available. It will not be all mountain training though, the team will also work to educate the local population on the process of responsibly growing winter recreation.

Return to Krygyzstan Baggage

The #Return2KG team has now officially touched down in Kyrgyzstan (with 1500 lbs of gear in tow) and has made it safely over treacherous mountain passes to their destination of Arslanbob. You can follow the team’s location and social updates in real-time with https://www.gramwire.com/returntokg.

This is a great project and we’re stoked to help support it by supplying the group and soon-to-be Kyrgyz guides with splitboard bindings. Other contributors on the snowboard side were Jones, who came in with the splitboards, and Never Summer who supplied 15 youth snowboards for the village children to learn on.

Check out http://www.returntokyrgyzstan.com/ for project news and more information on Nayla, her team, and people of Arslanbob.

We will update the Spark Blog when we hear from the #Return2KG crew, stay tuned!

Kyrgyzstan

 

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Category: Cool Stuff, Products.

Gathered around a two foot by six foot poster in the corridor that connects the shop and the warehouse, Spark R&D employees weigh the many options they are presented with, and enthusiastically voice their opinions to one another. They are looking at a poster with 54 possible color combinations for bindings, and they are discussing which choices deserve one of their three votes. Their vote matters, the field that started at 54 will be narrowed down to the top 15 employee choices before the final selections are made.

color selection

Not everyone’s favorite color or color combination makes it to the final 15, but the process is fun regardless. Employees enjoy the extra participation in deciding the look of our final product, and as a company we appreciate the valuable input they provide. This has really become a cool tradition, a team effort, and something we all look forward to each year.

In order to choose the final colorways for the upcoming season we have to mock-up the 15 top choices. This means going through the full manufacturing process, from bending and milling the parts, to anodizing the colors and assembling the final product (done almost entirely in-house). Not all of the mock-ups will or can make it into the upcoming season’s line. So, what happens to all those perfectly good, production grade splitboard bindings?

We make Bonus Bindings!

Steve hard at work making Bonus Binders

These gems are the unique color combos (some one-of-a-kind) that were part of the final 15 choices voted on by the Sparklers (a.k.a. Spark employees) but were not chosen for the 15/16 line of colors.

We have put this year’s Bonus Bindings on our webstore and they are available now. They feature bomber highbacks with a standard forward lean adjuster, a fatty, single Tesla T1 climbing wire (OneWire), Tesla snap ramps, and super solid buckles and straps.

These bad boys/gals will go fast, so if you’re looking to get on a new pair of splitboard bindings this winter; we recommend you act fast!

Here are some examples of the Bonus Bindings below. If you’d like to see all the unique colorways – visit the Bonus Bindings web page.

Blue Green Arc

Blue Green Arc

Gray Green Arc

Gray Green Arc

Gray Magma Arc

Black Magma Arc

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Surge

Gray Surge

Magma Surge 1

Magma Surge

Purple White W Surge

Purple White Surge

 

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Category: Spark in the Field.

Spark R&D Team Rider Ryland Bell checks in from Tahoe

The Return of TahoeThe past couple of seasons in Tahoe have been…rough. Especially in comparison to the first ten years I was here. There were never any questions that this is where I wanted to be, had to be, really.Tahoe had it all, both snow quality and quantity to go along with amazing backcountry access.

Nearly every storm seemed to dump three feet of that precious white gold on the mountains. I watched snowboard heroes and idols ripping next level lines and airs in my backyard; it changed the way I viewed the world.

Tahoe changed my life, molded me into the person, and rider I am today.

Then things changed…powerful snow was replaced by powerful sun, and warmth. Once magnificent snow banks gave way to green grass and rock. I was forced to travel for my powder fix. It was brutal always thinking any day, any day now the snow will return and legendary lines will again be mine to surf. Those perfect powder days with the terrain to back it up will all come back.IMG_3482

That time is now. It is the Return of Tahoe! I have ridden powder every day here for nearly 2 months. The smiles, the stoke, the energy is back! High fives everywhere you look. Many claims of “all time day” have been heard and face shots are no longer a dream of the past. We have been graced with cycling storms and cold temps since November. It’s not often the south facing slopes are holding feet of blower days after a big dump, but this year has produced just that.The mountains are filling in and the features that make Tahoe famous are constantly evolving with this season’s unique snowpack.

I love to watch cliffs disappearing under a heavy blanket of white with spines forming, and pillows mounding high.

IMG_3530My mornings are now spent on the Sierra Avalanche Center site checking the reports and thinking about new zones.The backcountry is riding good with top to bottom consistency! I’m loving those oh-so-steep, quintessential Tahoe faces gleaming in the first light of a crisp morning, and  long open lanes in perfectly spaced pines So many smiling faces; this is a big change from the past couple winters.

This may not be the norm in these changing times, but I’ll take it. I plan on drinking deep of the fruits of Mother Nature while I can and enjoying the Return of Tahoe. Tomorrow is another day, who knows what it will bring, but for now I’m heading out, splitboard in tow, for another round of snow under my board and powder in my face.

-RB

Follow Team Rider Ryland Bell on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the second half of his winter in Tahoe.

RB  IMG_3571

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Category: Cool Stuff, Inside Spark.

Inside-Spark-EmblemThe onset of a new year is always a fun time. It gives us a chance to reflect on what was, and get excited for what will or could be next year. A lot happens in a year both planned and unplanned. For instance, one year ago, I was in Tahoe trying to smile my way through another tough winter with no idea that a year later I’d be in Bozeman working for Spark R&D. And yes… they can all thank me leaving, obviously causing the copious snowfall this season… While the unplanned changes in a year, good and bad, big and small, are going to happen, what had me interested today were the planned, or you might say, hopeful changes some of the employees here at Spark have for 2016. These changes are often referred to as New Year’s resolutions. Here’s what a couple of the folks around the office, warehouse, and shop had to say.

Matt Mckee, COO

New Year’s Resolution: I resolve to give more high-fives to coworkers as well as Jay and Coops at World Boards. Above all else though, I resolve to kick ass at being a dad and get at least one smile from my daughter every day.

 

Phil Clement, Assembly SupervisorPhil 150x150

New Year’s Resolution: I only began snowboarding about five-years-ago. This year will be the year of the cliff. My New Year’s resolution is to drop my first cliff on a snowboard. What counts as a cliff? I’m saying a drop that’s at least head high!


Jon W 150x150Jon Whittenberg, 
Graphic Designer

New Year’s Resolution: I want to get to more creative projects in my free time. I received a four year drawing book from my wife for Christmas and I plan to work on filling it.

 

Tyler Nyman, Tyler 150x150Customer Service

New Year’s Resolution: I’m calling it the twelver. I want to snowboard all 12 months this year. July and August are tough, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

 

Steve 150x150

Steve Atencio, Head Pad Printer / Sub-Assembly Supervisor

New Year’s Resolution: Simple. Buy a Ford truck, find a nice lady, and get out backpacking more this summer. I have a cool multi-day section of the Continental Divide picked out right now for a good trek.

 

Adam Wright, Adam 150x150Shipping and Op Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I’m not going to lie, I drink a lot of coffee. While it’s just not realistic to give up coffee completely, my resolution is to go down to one cup o’ joe per day.

 

Ethan Marcoux, Assistant Machining Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I have two rad dogs – Banjo and Fancy. They love exploring with me when I’m out splitboarding and this year I want to bring them out with me in the backcountry more than I ever have.

 

Will Ritter, Will 150x150Owner / Chief Designer

New Year’s Resolution: When you run a business, especially one that you have a ton of fun with, it’s easy to work…a lot. This year I just want to splitboard more. I need more shred time; hopefully some of that new shred time is with my wife!

Ken 150x150

Ken Bartley, Plastics Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I live in Montana and need an adventure-mobile. This year I resolve to buy a 4WD van for fly fishing and splitboarding mountain trips.

 

James 150x150

James Black, Production Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I would like to finalize my truck topper cabin so that I can spend more time traveling to new zones with my snow machine. The end goal would be to explore more mountain ranges in the immediate area, as well as get into British Columbia, specifically the Selkirk Mountains.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and best of luck on your own New Year’s resolutions!

Dan Ventura
Marketing Manager, Spark R&D

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Category: Cool Stuff, Inside Spark.

Let me introduce myself – my name is Dan Ventura and I’m the Marketing Manager at Spark R&D. I’m relatively new here and over the last few months I’ve been enjoying getting to know everyone at the company. This is certainly a dedicated and talented group with interesting backgrounds and personalities. So I thought that as I get to know these awesome co-workers, the heart of Spark R&D, I would share some of their stories with you. This is the first segment of Inside Spark, an interview blog series that offers a way for the splitboard community to connect with the people that make the magic happen – the folks that bring our bindings from concept to your splitboard.

Ryan L - color edited

Ryan Leadbeater

I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this blog series than by taking a hot minute to speak with the longest tenured employee at Spark (not including our owner and founder), the adroit master of machines, Ryan Leadbeater.

Ryan, thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
They told me I have to and that I get a gift certificate…(laughs)

What is your job title?
Lead Machinist and Shop Foreman.

Ryan on the computer 1Where did you go to school and what is your degree in?
I went to Montana State University (MSU) and I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

How long have you been working here at Spark R&D?
Since 2010, so five years. When I started, Will (Owner/Chief Designer at Spark R&D) was the machinist. I had a little machining experience, so I began running machines with him in the shop. I quickly added more responsibility and took over the shop as Will needed to spend more and more time designing.

Can you explain a little about what your job entails?
Ryan on the CNC machine 1Simply, Will comes up with the new products, sends me the Solid Works 3D models, and I make them so you can hold them in your hand. The nitty-gritty would be programming our CNC machines, fixtures, tooling and design work, and managing our talented group of machinists.

A little follow up – When you say ‘tooling’, are you creating tools to use? How often do we make a tool to make a product?
Yes and often. Some tools stay the same, some change, but usually when design elements change, the tools change with them. We also create tools to perform certain Quality Control functions.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I would say making and testing our new products. We go through multiple versions of new products before they ever see the light of day. Then we get to take them out in the field and start testing them. It’s always fun to make eight pairs of proto bindings on a Friday, send them out over the weekend, and then check’em out when they come back. We’re just figuring out what works in the real world and what doesn’t.

What is or has been the most challenging project you’ve undertaken?
Learning my way around new CNC machines is always challenging, but it’s the kind of challenge I like. Passing on responsibilities in the shop over the years as Spark has grown has also been a challenge for me. I have a great support staff which helps a lot – it’s important to know that producing a quality product is as important to them as it is to me.

Ryan with the micrometer 1Is there a specific product that really stands out to you from Spark R&D or one you take a little extra pride in?
Most of them in general but some of the older bindings in particular. There was not a single set of the older models that I didn’t personally build and then QC (quality control). Nowadays, I have broader responsibilities, but not that long ago I had a lot more direct work with the bindings from start to finish. The Arc and Surge baseplate’s one wire detents are another source of pride for me. They are a unique aspect to a unique product and I spend a lot of time with the machines that produce the plates.

Are you a splitboarder?
Oh yeah. I got in about 30 days last season. I’d say about half of those days were spent testing proto bindings that are out now. I’m usually out testing when I splitboard.

I’ve heard you are a prolific snowmobiler. Can you comment on your snowmobiling?
I’m an engineer because of snowmobiling! Snowmobiling was a big part of what I did in college. I moved out here from the east coast to ski bum, but for probably four years I barely skied or snowboarded, I just snowmobiled. But… they break and you have to fix them and I learned a lot about machines doing that. I do love snowmobiling; it compliments my splitboarding, and probably gets me on my split more than I would be otherwise.

What kind of sled do you own?
It’s a 2014 Arctic Cat 800 M8. It’s for sale (laughs).

Any other cool hobbies our readers should know about?
I used to be big downhill mountain biker. Got the scars to prove it!

Ryan, thanks for taking the time our of your busy schedule to chat with me. 
You’re welcome. Do I really get a gift certificate?

Yes, you do.

A big thank you to Mr. Ryan  Leadbeater (pronounced Led – Beeter) for taking the time to talk with me about what he’s up to here at Spark. I will be posting more Inside Spark blogs throughout the season so stay tuned. (And if you met some of these crazy kids along your Spark travels and have specific requests for an employee to highlight, let me know!)

 

Dan Ventura
Marketing Manager, Spark R&D

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Category: Cool Stuff, News.

Spark T-Shirt Design Contest

Have you ever wandered through your local shop and thought, I could design a way sweeter t-shirt than this? Do you have some epic or maybe just burgeoning design skills? Well, here is your chance to design that shirt you’ve always wanted, for a brand you know. It’s once again time for Spark R&D’s annual T-Shirt Design Contest.

If we choose your design, you’ll win a pair of splitboard bindings for your efforts, as well as a hoodie and t-shirt with YOUR design on them. (Plus, you’ll be famous according to us.)

Here are the rules:

–  Design a shirt that contains the Spark R&D logo.
–  Keep it to two colors maximum (t-shirt fabric does not count as a color).
–  Design needs to fit within a 12” x 12” (30cm x 30cm) area.
–  Artwork is best submitted in vector format – .pdf, .eps, .ai, etc – but we’ll take .jpgs and .pngs too.

So start sketching and show us what you’ve got. Don’t be shy, just have fun with it. We love seeing the creative ideas you all come up with every season.

Please submit entries to jonw@sparkrandd.com and be sure to include your full contact info including mailing address, phone number, and email. Designs must be submitted by Tuesday, December 22nd. We’ll pick a winner by the end of the year.

Good Luck!

Spark R&D Logos

Spark Logos (.zip)