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Skiing Problem Research

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am a member of a group of 4 high school students in an engineering course that we have to innovate a product or invent a product. We decided we wanted to focus on skiing and snowboarding so:



What problems do you face while skiing that you wish could fix or what do you wish that someone would invent for skiing?



Also, take this survey to give us more feedback:






Thanks for you input

post #2 of 9

One ongoing problem we have at Stowe is with our gondola, more specifically the ski rack on the gondola doors. There is a rack on each door. Each rack has four spots on it, making a total of eight spots for skis. In front of this is a single wide spot, which one would assume would be for  a snowboard. It is an eight person gondola, so logic would state everybody should have plenty of room for equipment.


In practice, there are a number of problems with this system.

First, the front slot does not hold snowboards securely, so all snowboarders are required to take their boards into the cabin. It's not awful, but it would be nice if they didn't have to do that.

Second, the vertical rack that you slide the tails of the skis into does not account for twin tips. If you have twin tips, you typically have to take them apart and use two slots. If you have a gondola full of twin tip skiers, you suddenly run out of spots at 4 people.

Third, the ski slots are obviously not of unlimited width. People with fat skis cannot fit them in the slots, and have to put their skis on the floor of the cabin, where they are in people's foot space and get kicked. By fat, I mean my skis max out the slots with a 129mm tail.

Fourth, on very windy days (of which we have many at Stowe), skis will blow out of the racks, which causes skis to come falling right down onto the trail from the gondolas above. Not exactly the safest thing in the world.


So, the solution to the problem would be a rack that would securely hold any equipment on the exterior of the cabin, and would have the ability to quickly and easily insert and remove the equipment (8 people should be able to load and unload their equipment and themselves in about 30 seconds).

post #3 of 9

here's one for you.

After day of skiing, you end up with skis (and boots) with all kinds of .  If you don't wipe this down you end up with rusty edges.

Figure out a system for the yuppie among us to quickly get our gear de-snowed and iced (and dry) and back into the car.  If you walk in your boots to the car, you have the extra issue of muddy/dirty boots.


Is this completely at a useless problem to solve that is just a minor annoyance?  Will people use it?  Will a ski resort buy it?  I dunno, that's part of your project to do the analysis of those questions.


At the golf course they have plenty of those golfshoe cleaner devices and plenty of people use those.  

Some are the very simplistic dumb brushes, but some are fancy like the  electric ones that spin the brush.  I've also seen stations that use a compressed air nozzle for you to clean your shoes.  
Obviously every golf course bought all these devices, so try to see if there is some kind of similar market for gear cleaning at the end of your ski day too.

post #4 of 9

can't find a pic online at the moment, but maybe somone can take a quick pic of a gondie if they're up at Mammoth...

The gondie there accommodates for 8 and pretty much any equipment. We have a significant percentage of wide skis, full rocker stuff with turned up tails. AND lots of bdrs.

Part of the key is that the lifties know how to slide a complete pair of twin tips into one spot/slot. First put in one ski, bottom facing out and when the tail is in, angle the next ski so that the tail also slides in, back to back, and the pr nests nicely in the slot - have not seen ANY skis which cannot be put into one of the wide slots ... do reverse when removing the pair.

When the gondie is full they just go easy route and split the pr.

A full 8 person gondie takes less than 30 sec to load and the same to unload...

each door has a rack for at least 4 prs of wide skis and 2 wide slots for bds. Each bd slot can hold 2 bds, back to back. So any combo of 8 skiers to 8 bdrs can easily be accommodated with outside storage.

The grommets get to take their stuff into the cabin (or any really short ski or bd...). It's the stuff with short tails which has the potential to fall out...


As for wind, I was an Eastern Skier for 24 yrs, and had the joy of windy lift rides on many hills - there is nothing like being on a Mammoth lift on a windy day. This past Sat. the top was closed because of gale force winds 60-75 mph at the top, which was closed. We rode open lifts on the rest of the hill with steady 20-25 and gusts over 30 mph. On the wkend, it has to be blowin like stink for a Mammoth lift to be shut down...

never seen a ski or bd come off a mammoth Gondie and I've been in on some real swinging times/rides...

post #5 of 9

Here's a big problem.  Ski boots need to fit in a very specific way for the skier to send information to the skis so the skis will behave properly.  Avid skiers pay big money for their ski boots off the shelf, and then often pay more for after-market-custom fitting which makes them fit in a very specific way.  There can be a significant difference in ski performance (and skier happiness while in motion on snow) once all this is done.


But new skiers rent their boots from a rental shop.  New skiers are notorious for choosing a rental boot that they think fits nicely, but which in reality doesn't fit at all.  They typically choose a boot that is two sizes too big.  This causes poor information transmission from the feet to the skis.  Feet slosh around inside the boot, and as a result skis attached to the boot wobble around on the snow.  Skiers fail to have control over their skis, fall often, and don't come back for another visit.  They think they "can't ski."  It's often the boots, not them.


Add onto that problem the fact that rental boots are notorious for not fitting properly anyway.  The shop has to buy boots in bulk.  They end up buying boots that "fit" a generic foot, which for many skiers just doesn't match their foot's anatomy.  Even if a renter chooses a rental boot in the right size, chances are there are still significant issues with its fit.  Their feet will still slosh around inside the boot and the skis will still wobble around on the snow, etc.  

Rental boots need to be adjustable, and once adjusted to the renter's foot they need to feel comfortable.  All this needs to happen without loss of control of the skis, and it needs to be cost-effective so the rental shops can afford to buy the boots in the first place. 


Figure out how to fix this complex problem with rental boots and you will help the industry capture new skiers and make a small fortune for yourselves.

post #6 of 9

Make a ski boot with the liner filled with oobleck (http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/ht/oobleck.htm).  It would squish to conform to your foot, then stiffen when you apply pressure.  Other than the little problem of it freezing into a solid block at normal skiing temperatures, I think this would make for a dynamicly perfect fit and might even ski well.  It might even retain heat to keep your feet warm.

post #7 of 9

Poor visibility of bumps in flat light.

Trying to fit touring boots (too tight to tour, too loose to downhill.)

Trying to unload a chair full of four novice snowboarders at once (can't there be a staged unloading process?)

Inbounds treewell danger.

post #8 of 9

Why is your questionnaire only geared towards boots?

post #9 of 9
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