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  • KIDZGEAR: Slytech: Skier and Rider Protection of ForeArms, Shins, and Back

    I was standing at an alpine FIS race last season. It was a warm day, and the racers peeled off the top part of their suits. Various pieces of foam, padding and even soccer guards fell to the snow - all this under stealth jackets and padded suits. But soccer guards? Yup, one of the racers had taped his little sister's soccer shin guards to his forearm to protect against gate bashing.

    Enter Slytech. Slytech has entered the market with a very lightweight "4Arm Guard" that is being used on the World Cup. Using advanced technology (see product info), Slytech's arm guards allow a racer to clear the rapid gate using their forearm, without the sacrifice of bruises and stress fractures.

    Photo courtesy Slytech SLYTECH 4ARM GUARDS
    The use of the most advanced technologies currently available for engineering and manufacturing cutting-edge composite components, combined with the experience accrued in this field by technical experts, has allowed Slytech to obtain a high performance product that offers considerable advantages. The special lay-up and optimization of the orientation of the fibers makes it possible to obtain an extraordinary stiff yet lightweight shell. Arm impact with the gates therefore becomes an elastic phenomenon where there is no energy wasting and athletes are not slowed down in the same way as when wearing conventional stealth padded tops. The 4Armguards make impact on the forearms unperceivable, allowing athletes to assume far higher performance tactical and technical attitudes and posture. In short, they can focus on optimizing their line without considering the impact with the gate. For speed reasons, it is preferable to clear the gate using the forearm (or the rear part of the shoulder) rather than with the elbow and shoulder. This is why with 4Armguards, athletes clear down the gate in the fastest possible way, in other words using the forearm, rather than with other parts of the body that would slow the action. Therefore they keep their arms forwards, thus improving both technique and performance: this is possible because they are equipped to obtain the utmost safety and confidence.

    The 4Armguards also offer unparalleled protection when performing slalom hairpins and flushes. In addition to considerably increasing the stiffness of the shell, the use of the exclusive "3dn" technology with 3 deviators, maximizes the speed of passage over the gate thus drastically reducing the friction generated during impact and the subsequent slide. The shell's anatomic shape allows a perfect fit to the athlete's forearm. The stretch Velcro adapts to the shape of the arm to obtain a perfect fit and utmost comfort. Each and every detail has been carefully studied to maximize performance and is the result of meticulous and lengthy tests performed by the world's top skiers.

    But does it work? Ted Ligety thinks so, endorsing the product, as do many World Cup skiers. We had one of our Rippin' Riders test the arm guards and here's what he had to say. "I did some training in New Zealand this summer and a couple of FIS races. The Slytech 4Arm Guards are amazing. They are really lightweight; you can't even tell they are there. I started going straighter at the gate, and instead of tensing at each contact, I was able to relax as I whacked the gate (I do that a lot). The forearm guards are everything that you could hope for them to be. They are the best source of protection for your arms when running GS and SG. I love to ski straight and with the 4Arm Guard, you don't have to feel the pain. My bruises have disappeared and I'm ready for a great season".

    Photo courtesy Slytech SLYTECH SHINGUARDS
    Like the 4Arm Guards, the Slytech Shinguards use carbon fiber, making them very lightweight. Athletes do not feel the impact with the gate and acquire greater skiing safety and determination. In addition to considerably increasing the stiffness of the shell, the use of the "3dn" technology with 3 deviators, maximizes the speed of passage over the gate thus drastically reducing the friction generated during impact and the subsequent slide. The shell's anatomic shape allows a perfect fit of the shinguard to the athlete's leg. The high-density foam padding offers optimal comfort and grip. Each and every detail has been carefully studied to maximize performance and is the result of the meticulous, lengthy tests performed by the world's top slalom skiers.

    Do they work? Here's what our Rippin' Rider had to say, "I enjoyed being recognized with Slytechs because of their profile - felt just like someone on the World Cup. The shin guards are one of the most comfortable shin guards that I have ever worn. They felt like they are custom molded to your shin. Other companies are coming out with carbon guards, but Slytech has the custom fit down."

    Hand built in Italy, both the 4Arm Guards and the Shinguards are available in silver and carbon. Suggested retail for the 4Arm Guards is $125. The Shinguards are $219, or you can buy both for $319 at Sportkombat.com .

    Aggressive skiing and riding come with the risk of injury. I'm happy to see that many more young skiers, riders, and racers are taking a proactive approach to staying healthy. More and more young athletes are turning to back protectors for those big air days. Slytech has introduced a new product, 2nd SKIN, to address the back protection issue.

    Photo courtesy Slytech SLYTECH 2ND SKIN: THE REVOLUTION IN SPINE PROTECTION
    Protection and comfort are two concepts that are generally compromised. A protector may be efficient yet diminish comfort and mobility of the body. Thanks to the latest technology available in the field of Polyurethane foams, Slytech 2nd Skin eliminates this problem with a back protector ranked #1 in both protection and comfort. As the memory-cell-foam element is warmed up by one's body heat, it becomes extremely flexible and will follow all movements of the body. When not being worn, it returns to its original shape.

    As pressure is slowly applied, the air inside the microstructure of the small bubbles is forced out of the foam, through the micro holes on the surface, thus compressing the volume while increasing the protective density. In contrast, when quick sharp pressure is applied, the force of contact traps the air within the material maintaining the thickness, density, and most importantly the protective qualities of the padding.

    Comfort, flexibility, and protection have finally been combined to the utmost level. Now during all riding conditions, the softness of Slytech 2nd Skin will allow the body to move and react free of constraints. And, if impact is to occur, it will act as an outstanding progressive shock absorber, adapting itself intelligently to different forces and speeds. All Slytech 2nd Skin protectors are certified to the highest levels achievable in accordance with the European Standard EN 1621-1. Level 2 for the Standard model and Level 1 for the Superlight model.

    Standard back protectors also transfer all forces integrally into the body during low energy impacts. Yet, with the Slytech 2nd Skin protector, the shock absorption increases proportionally and the body is protected thoroughly at any impact level.

    To keep the body completely free, flexible, and comfortable, there are no hard plastic components on the inside or outside of the protector. The belt, made of superior elastic material, has been manufactured to allow for maximum back support and the highest level of comfort. Available: Standard in S, M, L, XL and XL Tight; Superlight in M and L. Retail prices range from $124-$149, depending on size. They are available at Sportkombat.com .

    **** Testing Feedback:
    Here's what Jake Perkins had to say about the 2nd Skin Back Protector after this crash, "I can't believe my back doesn't hurt after this J2 National SG crash. I'm a bit sore to the right of the protector, but not too bad. Don't ask me about my knee though. I wear the back protector all the time now."

    Archived articles relating to KidzGear:

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