On a recent Friday afternoon, Burton employees inaugurated their new skate ramp in style with burgers, beer, loud music and relentless skating. While their co-workers hung at the company's annual picnic day at a local park, those who skate retreated back to office for a seven hour session on the new structure.
Replacing a string of minis that they've built over the years, Burton has gone big and sturdy with the new ramp. Built by Matt Gormley and Dave Wood of New Hampshire based Parkitects, the ramp stands 10 feet tall and 40 feet wide with 14 feet of flat bottom. For 24 feet of the width, the height is 9 feet and for the remaining 16 feet, it's a full 10 feet tall. Topped with steel coping, the ramp's 10-foot trannies go just to vert in the taller section. “We built this thing like a tank,” explains Project Manager Cris Dabica. The VT winter-proof construction he refers to includes extra stout plywood covered by 14-gauge steel and 4×4 cross supports in key places. And on either side, a staircase leads to 4-foot roll out decks.
The size and sturdiness of the new ramp has two reasons. First off, according to Dabica, Burton “wanted to build a ramp that skaters could grow into, not out of, like the smaller ramps we've built in the past.” Instead of just throwing up a new mini on which local skaters could immediately throw down their full bag of tricks, Dabica and other Burton skaters decided to make a ramp that forced them to re-learn stuff and take old tricks to new levels. Also, with the taller portion going to vert, it opens up the possibility for airs and other vert-based tricks. The extra beefy construction ensures that the ramp will physically outlast the old structure, giving skaters multiple seasons to progress and learn.
Burton's continued commitment to building skate ramps is a natural outgrowth of the company's core culture. “We go sideways in the winter, so it's natural for us to skate in the summer,” Dabica points out. Two VPs at Burton come from skate backgrounds and a large number of other employees skate as well. In one way, skate ramps are the Vermont company's version of an in-house work-out room; while corporate jockeys in NYC hit the treadmill and watch CNN during lunch, Burton employees prefer to hit a fast food joint and grab a half hour of 50-50s, Smith grinds and backside airs. Beyond employee benefits, the ramp is a service to the local skate scene, with public access several days a week.
To fully enjoy the new structure, Burton has gone to town with a full set of amenities. Since music is an integral part of skating, they've installed a lock-box to house a stereo and a five-disc changer that feed four outdoor Bose speakers. Six halogen lights provide illumination for night skating–a necessity for employees who bust their asses for 10+ hours a day. And for extra-deluxe sessions, they wheel out the BBQ from under the roll-out deck to grill up steaks and burgers.
After a couple weeks of skating, the feedback from employees and locals has been super positive. Those who have dropped in have been stoked on the size and quality, placing it somewhere in the top 5 of all New England ramps. With the larger design and stout construction, this ramp will be around for a while. Come check it out.