Scarpa Footwear: An Innovative Shop Snags Chris Davenport


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In Powderwhore's first ski trailer for its 2012 Choose Your AdventureChris Davenport is on a boat, one in Antarctica, skiing sick lines, singing and dancing and raising the roof. 

He’s probably crooning so contentedly because he is in one of the most beautiful and hard to reach places in the world shredding pristine slopes and being ridiculous for the camera.

Another reason he might look
so smug is that he just signed a deal with Scarpa, a leading Italian footwear brand. And he’s not just going to be one of Scarpa's athletes. 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 coming out in time for the 2013/14 season.

Davenport is one
of the most accomplished big-mountain skiers in the world. “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,” he said. “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. 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.”

In a world where
most footwear companies are owned by a big conglomerate, Scarpa is unique. It’s
still privately owned by the Parisotto family. Three Parisotto brothers created the
company and now their children own and operate it. The family is on-site at the factory every day, including the Parisotto patriarchs, Luigi, Francesco, and Antonio—now all in their 80s. In fact, many of the people who work in the factory are second- or third-generation craftsmen and women. They make footwear with the care of artists carving masterpieces.

Scarpa is a clear leader in footwear and ski boot innovation. The company was the first to make a plastic telemark ski boot, and the first to make a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable hiking boot. Scarpa still manufactures all of its high-end injection-molded ski boots in Italy as well as its climbing and mountaineering shoes and boots. I had a chance to visit the company headquarters this
summer, and was blown away by the time, skill and labor that goes into
each pair of Scarpa shoes. Not only is each piece of a Scarpa Italian-made shoe or boot cut, stitched and glued by a skilled craftsman, but the boots are laced by hand, the paper is placed in the toe of each shoe by hand to help it maintain its shape, and each pair of shoes is placed in the box by a human, not a machine. I had no idea; I will never look at my shoes the same way.

“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.”

—Berne Broudy