Dalbello: A new era of Italian ski boot design and innovation!
A rising ski brand with a boot building heritage
The Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year announced the arrival of Dalbello as a serious contender in the ski boot world. While the family-owned brand is celebrating its 40 year anniversary in 2014, Dalbello is still relatively young and unknown compared to some of the older heavyweights of the ski world like Rossignol, Nordica, Lange or Tecnica. However, the 10 medals won by athletes wearing Dalbello ski boots this year, many of them in the burgeoning freeski and freestyle skiing disciplines, have placed Dalbello in elite company in the ski industry.
Dalbello began manufacturing boots under their own brand in 1974, yet founders Alessandro and Giovanna Dal Bello brought industry experience and knowledge gained from working in the Henke ski boot factory in the early 1960’s. They returned home to Italy and continued to practice their craft as contractors, manufacturing ski boot uppers for Henke. They worked successfully for Henke, while gaining a wealth of knowledge about ski boot manufacturing and design, as well as the business side of the ski equipment industry. In the early 1970’s, the couple decided to embark on their own, inspired by their vision and the knowledge that they possessed the skill and experience necessary to create their own boot manufacturing brand. In 1974, Dalbello released their first ski boots in Austria. A dream and vision had become a reality and a new brand was born!
The ski industry was growing rapidly in the 1970’s and Dalbello strove to rise to the top of the ski boot market by utilizing industry leading design and technology. Dalbello quickly became one of the most innovative boot brands and raised the bar for boot design. When new technology emerged, Dalbello was quick to examine and often incorporate new ideas into their boots. When plastic boot construction, the greatest technological advancement in ski boot technology, arose around the time that Dalbello first produced ski boots, they were sure to join the trend. This was a leap of faith for the family and the company, since the molds, equipment and machinery for injection molded ski boots are extremely costly, but the gamble paid off and Dalbello continued to grow.
Continued innovation and international success
By the 1980’s, Dalbello had built a reputation for producing quality boots with reliable performance and exceptional fit. This reputation gave the brand an increasing level of recognition in international markets and within the ski community. The brand reached out to elite skiers at the early part of the decade in an effort to enhance their visibility and for promotional purposes. Steve McKinney was one of the worlds most accomplished speed skiers, establishing multiple speed records and becoming the first person to break 200 km/h on skis. McKinney, along with speed skiers Simon and Busham, took the Dalbello name to podiums around the world. During this same period, Dalbello began outfitting competitive ski racers. While they had begun to build a strong reputation, bolstered by competitive successes, the company was still family owned and relatively small in comparison to the giant Italian ski brands that dominated the industry.
In the 1990’s, Dalbello began to find commercial success that lived up to the brand’s reputation. Dalbello boots began to sell well in ski-crazy nations like North America, Germany and Austria. This international success allowed Dalbello to expand its distribution web to other regions. They continued to push the limits of boot design, by constantly utilizing the best quality materials and design elements in the industry. In 1997, Dalbello released the first boot designed specifically for carving in the CARVEX series. This line of boots was a huge success for the brand, due to the brand’s commitment to building purpose-driven boots.
Building boots for the modern skier
In the 2000’s, Dalbello diverted from the paths taken by other boot makers and began to focus on segments of the industry that were about to explode: freeskiing and freestyle skiing. This new direction for the brand was inspired by freeskiing legend Glen Plake, who developed the Rider Development Project —a new vision for performance ski boots designed by Dalbello’s R&D engineers with a high level of input from professionals and respected skiers. Plake wanted a boot with all of the benefits of the old Raichle Flexon, but with the fit, performance and innovative features that Dalbello was known for. Today, the Dalbello Krypton series, including the KR2 Fusion and the KR2 Chakra, which utilize a 3-piece design similar to the Flexon, but with an incredible fit and advanced technological features.
The Rider Development Project has continued to grow and now includes a new generation of freeskiers including Sean Pettit, as well as freestyle pioneer Tanner Hall, as well as 2014 Olympians including slopestyle bronze medalist Nick Goepper and halfpipe bronze medalist Kevin Rollan, among others. Dalbello won 10 medals in the Sochi Olympics, but notably, nearly all of these wins came in freestyle events. By focusing on modern skiers and their needs, the Dalbello brand has situated itself in a position to dominate the ski boot market moving forward!