Monday 19 December 2011

Equipment Watch: Launch Skates

The skates you see above are called Launch Skates. If you notice, there are two very distinct additions to the skate chassis that you can see. Those, readers, are high compression steel springs. What's the purpose of springs in skates, you ask? Well, that's what we're here for, and HBIC wants to take a look at this new innovation called Launch Skates.

First, let's get a little info on what these Launch Skates are all about. According to their website, "High compression steel springs are mounted in the front and back of the blade holder, allowing the blade to move up and down - utilizing kinetic energy and gravity as weight and motion are applied by the skater". That's pretty interesting, I'd say.

Getting science involved to make skaters faster by better utilizing the motions of the foot seems like a good idea. Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and others have been doing it with running shoes for decades, and the Nike Shox shoe is made to "absorb impact from heel strike while running" while springing back to add more power to the runner's stride. It sounds like the spring action idea is now being incorporated into skates!

The one thing that makes me a little leery about the testimonials and reports is that there are no names attached to the comments. I can understand why they can't name the NHL player since Launch Skates are not licensed by the NHL, but why not name the professional hockey instructor? Why not name the amateur hockey player and former Junior A player? Do they have some sort of contract with an endorsement deal that would prevent them from testing out the Launch Skates?

The gallery of images was pretty cool because of the Launch Skates prototypes. You can see that they used regular hockey skates to test the chassis, and that's pretty conclusive evidence that these chassis would at least work on hockey skates. There are no images of the skates being used on the ice, however, so I'm not all that certain that these skates actually work the way in terms of how they are presented. And no video? Anything that proves that these skates actually work in the manner that they are presented?

There is some contact info if you want to find out more, but it seems that the Launch Skates are still very early in the testing phase of development. The email sent to me by David Blois came from the email address on that page, so there definitely is someone checking that mailbox.

While I'm not going to rain on the parade thrown by Launch Skates, there needs to be some more concrete evidence shown on their site - video or pictures of players using the skates - about how these skates make a player faster and how the science works behind the suspension in the chassis. Naming some of the "testimonial" people would also bring instant credibility if these are recognized people, so that would be good as well.

Overall, the skates look promising, but I just want to see more concrete evidence that the skates work as the Launch Skates website claims they do.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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