May 5, 2009 A University of British Columbia student is unveiling the latest model of his ski and snowboard Landing Pad with the hopes of setting a new standard in safety for freestyle skiing and snowboarding.
After a 2005 snowboarding accident that left him a quadriplegic, Aaron Coret, a fourth-year UBC engineering student and snowboard enthusiast partnered with recent graduate Stephen Slen to develop a freestyle ski and snowboard safety device as part of their Integrated Engineering course work. The result is a patent-pending invention set to make its public debut at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta the first week in May.
Unlike sports such as diving and gymnastics, freestyle snowboarding - where athletes do tricks as high as three to seven metre in the air - has no standardized training facilities that allow athletes to safely perfect their skills.
"One of the biggest threats to snowboarders' safety is landing on icy terrain while attempting new tricks," says Coret. "This is the risk we want to remove." Coret and Slen have created Katal Innovations to develop and market the Landing Pad.
What sets the duo's invention apart from existing safety devices that simply serve as a "giant pillow" is its unique design that simulates a perfectly shaped terrain park jump with a powder landing. Now in its third and largest iteration, at 15 metres by 27 metres in size, the Landing Pad features two independent air chambers to allow riders to continue movement downhill but cushions the fall in case the rider lands on anything other than their feet, making training safer.
"Over the past 20 years, snowboarding has evolved from a small group of riders crowded around early generation half-pipes to a mainstream industry with terrain parks at every resort, and a large following of people who are absolutely obsessed with it," says Coret. "Terrain parks at ski resorts are like a fantasy land for riders who crave the adrenaline rush of defying gravity while flying through the air upside down," says Coret. "But these jumps can deal out nasty consequences in less than perfect landing conditions."
"By creating a safer environment in which to learn new tricks, I hope to take some of the risk out of progressing this sport and continue to contribute to the sport I love so much," says Coret.
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