Client Partner: Rachel Westphal, LiveKühn® Inventor and CEO
When Rachel was 11 years old, the competitive figure skater suffered an impact related hip injury and was forced to give up ice skating for over a year. Undeterred, her injury and time on the sidelines prompted Rachel to seek out safety gear that would enable her to practice new skills fearlessly and with reduced risk of injury.
The Challenge: Finding The Best Shock Absorbing Material
Shock related injuries are common in the sport, as ice skaters are working on complex moves and jumps from heights of 4-5 feet in the air. Injuries can easily occur as athletes fall from these heights at speeds of 10-15 miles per hour, wearing nothing for additional protection.
“We tried everything from bubble wrap to foam pads from other sports,” Rachel said. “But none of them gave the flexibility (protection) and performance that a skater need(s). “One evening at the dinner table, Rachel asked her dad, an engineer, about making a figure skating specific pad, with better performance than what she could find.
Partnering with Sorbothane for a Custom Shock Absorbing Solution
Rachel, along with her parents, partnered with Sorbothane, Inc., to design a solid Sorbothane® pad that flexes with skaters’ muscles, fits comfortably and does not interfere with the athletes’ performance. The unique properties of Sorbothane made it the ideal material for PeacePads™ protective skater pads. Sorbothane attenuates shock, moving energy laterally away from the point of impact, and it stays flexible, flowing like a liquid to correspond with a skater’s movements.
Real World Testing Sorbothane Pads
It took a year of physically testing ideas and perfecting the design to develop hip and tailbone pads that would work with the different age groups, skill levels and body types of skaters. Unlike foam products, Sorbothane’s shock absorbing material can absorb shock efficiently for millions of cycles and has an operating temperature range of -20° F (-29° C) to +160° F (72° C).
Sorbothane’s Custom Engineering Solution
The final result was a solid Sorbothane PeacePad that features a double-elliptical shape to promote a better fit on the hip. The same double-elliptical shape of TailbonePeace™ pads helps them fit comfortably over the tailbone, providing fitted protection. In figure skating and winter sports, flexibility is golden. PeacePads are designed to fit the body comfortably and help protect bones, joints and muscles from the damaging impact of a fall.
PeacePads are made in the USA at Sorbothane, Inc., in Kent, Ohio.
Continued PeacePads™ Product Refinement
There are now three product lines in the PeacePads family. Each is made of Sorbothane and designed to fit skaters of different ages, body types and training regimens. There is a protective pad designed for intense training, a discreet pad for competition and a lighter weight dual-material PeacePad.
The Lasting Impact of LiveKühn PeacePads
PeacePads are made in the USA at Sorbothane, Inc. in Kent, Ohio. “I want to help other skaters by giving them a product that really works,” Rachel said, “while at the same time making it cool to be safe.”
Rachel’s products have already made a big impact as the PeacePads are sold from the United States to Australia, Hong Kong, Italy and other countries around the world. In addition, the use of PeacePads has even expanded into other sports including horseback riding, skateboarding, longboarding, motocross, mountain biking and skiing.
If you are looking for unique shock and vibration solutions Sorbothane will work with you to create a custom solution for your needs. Not sure where to start? View our standard products guide to get more information about our solutions. Then, contact us to speak to a member of our design team to discuss the perfect solution for your needs.