- Wyatt Gaines
In J.D. Platt's 39 years in Bend, he's done just about everything—from professional snowboarder to breakdancer—and now he's come out with his own brand of inflatable standup paddle boards, aptly named JD SUP. Still, Platt's probably best known for his 21 years training and showing dogs as JD Platt's K9 Kings.
If you live in Bend, you've likely seen Platt's bright yellow and black Ford truck someplace in town—maybe at Mt. Bachelor or WinterFest, or maybe towing the behemoth trailer that houses his nine furry children when he hits the road for the flying dog shows.
"I absolutely love what I do with the dogs," Platt told the Source at his home in southwest Bend. Every single time I go out and do a venue and I have a big break and I go do a show, it's amazing how much my dogs touch people's lives."
Platt got his professional sporting career started in 1987 as one of the first generation of pro snowboarders. In 1990, he invented the "Lien Dracula" point value trick, and in 1993 took third place in the first ever Boardercross event held at Whistler Blackcomb in Whistler, British Columbia. He actually started snowboarding in 1984, when there were fewer than a handful of other boarders on Mt. Bachelor.
"I could probably name them," Platt said, laughing. Platt's website says he was a top ranked junior Olympic skier from 1979 to 1984, but he said early snowboarding magazines got him into the fledgling sport. Although many resorts banned snowboarders in the early years, Platt said Bend's home hill was open to the new way down the mountain.
"Mt. Bachelor has always had this really free mind towards thinking about allowing different sports up there and snowboarding was one of them that they accepted right away," Platt said. "They never had a resistance to allowing us on the chairlifts. We saw the resistance maybe with the skiers looking at us weird," Platt said, bellowing out his signature laugh.
Platt said he came out of retirement last year when Bend's SnoPlanks designed a signature model. This time though, he says he's keeping the board on the ground, racing in banked slaloms instead of doing the high-flying aerials in days past.
"I love those guys and will be with them for as long as they keep me in," Platt said of SnoPlanks.
In 2006, after throwing probably hundreds of thousands of Frisbees for his dogs, Platt turned pro in disc golf. He said he started playing in the early '90s, when there was a homemade course in Drake Park, and then moved to the Central Oregon Community College nine-hole course when it was built.
"I entered some competitions back in the early '90s and did really well in the intermediate division," Platt said. "I quickly went to the advanced, and started getting top three in that, and I always like to push myself in sports, so I started entering the open division in the pros and after a couple of events, I ended up cashing out and kind of went professional with it."
As with most of the things Platt does, eventually he'll let the dogs out.
"Then of course, I brought my dogs into the disc golf world and started doing some entertainment," he said.
Platt said he retired from the disc golf tour about five years ago, but still plays in local tournaments when he has time.
"I love the industry, I think it's one of the most amazing sports and it grows every single year and I'm friends with some of the top disc golfers in the world," Platt said. "And my position with DCurve Optics—is I'm a team manager—and I've actually brought in a team of seven of some of the top disc golfers in the world with that."
This April, Platt will start what he called, "the point in my life where I've always wanted to be: of having my own brand." With his newest venture, JD SUP, Platt designed one of the inflatable standup paddle boards with, of course, his dogs in mind. His K9 Tour model has a raised "Paw Perch" that Platt designed. All of his boards come with his patented retractable center fin—helpful if you run into one of the many lava rocks that surround Central Oregon's rivers and lakes. While Platt hasn't taken this venture to the professional level—yet—he's still trying to do skateboard-like tricks on his freestyle boards.
"Here I am having people try to invent and get the kids out there and try to invent some tricks in the paddleboard world," Platt said.
With all of the sports Platt has been involved in, it begs the question: can he retire?
"I'd better hurry up," he said, belly laughing as usual. "I would like to retire one day. I feel very blessed that my parents got me involved with a lot of sports and I continued with a passion my entire life to stay active. And hopefully, I'll be following my son around the NHL hockey circuit or something like that."