Oct. 31 - A Canadian inventor has developed ice skates that will greatly increase the speed of skaters on the rink. With high compression springs inserted between the blade and the sole of the boot, skaters will be able to take advantage of their kinetic energy, propelling them faster across the ice with much less effort. Ben Gruber reports.
Professional ice skaters can already reach great speeds using conventional skates. But David Blois says his invention will allow skaters to move even faster. Blois has developed what he calls launch skates - which incorporate a set of high compression springs in the front and back of conventional skates. These springs store and release energy produced while skating. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID BLOIS, INVENTOR OF LAUNCH SKATES, SAYING: "So basically what happens is that the skater is on the skate and the skater's weight and motion are applied then the blade actually moves up into the holder and then as the skater releases or lifts off his boot the blade, you can see, comes out and that energy that's in each spring is released and that's how, that's how, it actually creates a push forward with the skate." That push forward propels a skater faster without any extra effort. Hockey instructor Bill Heath has been testing the launch skates. While they can be applied to a number of different skating activities, Heath , says hockey, as one of the most gruelling sports played on ice, is one where players could gain a significant edge through energy savings. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BILL HEATH, HOCKEY INSTRUCTOR AT HOCKEY EXTREME SCHOOL, SAYING, "They give you extra push when you're on the ice and they don't fatigue you as easy as normal skates do so that you can skate a lot longer and not get tuckered out as fast." …and along with speeding up a skaters performance, Blois says his design will keep them safer on the ice as well. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID BLOIS, INVENTOR OF LAUNCH SKATES, SAYING: "The launch skates are much easier on the skater's leg joints and so the hope is that it's going to reduce injuries for players and make it more comfortable even for recreational skaters." Blois says he is now working with a marketing company to promote his skates. He hopes they will ultimately change the industry, putting a new spring in the step of anyone who puts them on.