Nitro Camp: Day Four

The Pinocchio Bar is a swirl of smoke, pulsing lights, and block-rocking beats of Euro-trance music. Nitro team riders and other snowboarders are grooving with the scene, as are newly arrived retailers from 50-odd German snowboard shops who have joined Nitro for its summer camp in Garmisch, Germany being held during the week.

Strippers appear, do their deal, and leave. The crowd approves, but moves on quickly to more dancing, and drinking Red Bull and Vodka, the elixir of choice. Things slowly decay into the night, as happens sometimes, and the wreckage will be felt tomorrow.

The day had started on a much brighter note. I had skipped the action on the hill, in exchange for a three-hour ride up to the Voelkl Snowboard and Ski factory in Straubing, Germany. Nitro Owners Tommy Delago, Sepp Ardelt, Product Manager Tim Weisser, Rep Andrew Pettis, and team rider Jesse Huffman went along to check out the one-year-old factory Nitro has begun using. In fact, it’s now the number-one snowboard client of the factory.

The plant is clean, but frenzied. Boards are everywhere. According to Volkl staff, the factory is making 350,000 pairs of skis and 120,000 snowboards (not all are for Nitro) and has capacity to do more. About 500 employees oversee the work.

Because the factory is noisy with sounds of machines cutting, grinding, and molding wood, metal, and fiberglass into snowboards, we wear headphones while Tommy and a Volkl representative walk us through the tour. Tommy is a regular MC, pointing out the different parts to building a snowboard and how they go together, in between cracking jokes. Jesse is stoked by the machine that cuts out the die-cut bases, and decides he wants some of the P-tex die-cuts for his house back in Vermont. He drags some out of the bin they’re beings stored in, while an employee notes that they’ll need to cut some more bases to cover the ones missing.

Indeed, the Nitro boards are manufactured differently from the other lines coming out of the plant. The designs come directly from team-rider input and are refined by Tommy at the Nitro offices, before being built here. All graphics come from the Seattle offices of long-time Nitro Art Director Mike Dawson.

The tour is fascinating and educational. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to see the factory as part of the visit to Germany. Although we miss a day of riding, we’ve learned more about the boards we’re riding and how they’re made, and that’s a pretty cool thing.

Keep tuned for the final report about the Nitro camp in Garmisch, Germany.