Ski Forever

Or how dudes in tights rule.

After 30 years in international business, Kim Gustafson decided to semi-retirer in Vail. But his powder dreams were put on hold when he tore his ACL. Soon he was under the knife with Vail’s Richard Steadman, a man inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of fame in 2001 for extending the careers of various skiers. It was then that Gustafson decided to create apparel that would support the knees while skiing.

In 2003, he partnered with the Steadman Philippon Research Institute to create a knee support system to be worn during skiing, with a real anatomical benefit.

“The key was developing a product that could be proven in a laboratory,” Gustafson says. He worked with top doctors and scientists at the Institute to architect a pair of ski tights would unload the knee, reducing injury and discomfort. Made from a wicking compression fabric, the design features a non-stretch band that goes from the hip down both sides of the thigh, crossing in front and below the knee, then down to the ankle. Research has shown the tights reduce quadricep fatigue by 32 percent and unload 7 tons of pressure on the knee over the course of running one mile.

“That’s huge,” says Gustafson. “That’s maybe two more runs in the late afternoon, or what allows skiers to get out there for one more day, or the difference between an enjoyable and a painful experience on the mountain.”

Gustafson’s resulting company, Opedix, launched the tights during the 2008/2009 season, with promising results that included endorsements from Vail Resorts and the National Ski Patrol. This season, Opedix is testing a hypothesis that all ski patrollers and instructors should wear the tights every time they are on the mountain for optimal health and safety. Both Vail and Aspen are participating in the new study.

For more information: opedix.com

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