James Chew’s 2006 University of Calgary environmental design sit ski project finally has a prototype: Canada, meet the EVO 1.
“It’s not a great name,” laughed Chew, but it became the mono ski’s working title, meaning evolution one.
A U of C graduate, Chew is now also the director of product design and marketing for local business InclineDesign (inclinede sign.ca).
The company hopes to increase interest and accessibility to the sport of sit skiing and EVO 1 is Step One towards doing that.
The idea to improve upon the existing heavy and over-priced sit ski models, ranging from $3,500 to $7,000 each, evolved from Chew’s personal interest in skiing, innovation and product development, but also the obvious market gap for adaptive ski products.
With help from others — fellow U of C students, Westlink Innovation Network Ltd., University Technologies International (UTI), Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing (CADS) and local manufacturers — via funding, collaborative thinking and industry expertise, Chew said InclineDesign should have an affordable, entry-level sit ski ready for adaptive ski programs by this fall/winter season.
CADS Calgary offers adaptive training for disabled skiers at Canada Olympic Park (COP) with older mono ski models available for students to borrow during lessons.
Volunteer CADS supervisor Brian Martin estimated eight sit skiers enrolled in COP’s specialized program that started last week. He said it’s likely only one student will pursue the sport when those lessons end.
“To say to students you need at least $5,000 to continue — that’s a pretty tough pill (for them) to swallow,” explained Martin.
He hopes EVO 1’s cost — Chew approximated $2,000 per model — will allow more people to continue beyond beginner lessons and into higher performance sit skiing.
Martin became InclineDesign’s prototype test pilot due to their mutual CADS connection. As a paraplegic with experience riding two older sit ski models, he could also provide more effective input.
He said he was unsure what to expect as he’s quite used to his $6,000 custom-fitted model. But, after a few modifications based on Martin’s feedback, he said EVO 1 skis well and he’d feel confident taking it from the top of COP and down intermediate runs in the mountains.
Chew said tests are still taking place on InclineDesign’s second generation sit ski, but its simple, modular pieces will help provide a much needed affordable option for disabled skiers in the near future.