A ski pole that enables cross-country skiers to increase their speed even more than is currently possible. This is what cross-country skier and innovator Mikael Östberg is busy developing. Thanks to a partnership with The Wood Region, a Swedish test centre, his innovation could be ready by next season.
“The biggest advantages are won when you’re going at high speed, slightly downhill or double poling. And on occasions where you wouldn’t normally have time to double pole. With this pole you can continue increasing your speed. It’s a bit like having an extra gear.”
This is how Mikael Östberg, a former member of the Swedish cross-country ski team, describes his innovative ski pole. Mikael has been tinkering with his pole idea for the past ten years, but it is only now that he feels ready to present it to the world.
“I now believe that I’ve solved all the problems, so that only the advantages remain,” he says.
Mikel Östberg’s prototype is manufactured using 3D printers and a bio-based material made from sawmill residues.
What makes this pole innovative is a mechanism in the handle that allows skiers to give themselves a longer push-off. This is because the pole is comprised of three different parts, including a moving part. A runner opens the pole during each push-off and quite simply makes it longer.
“My pole offers a greater effect with every poling motion. There used to be a similar solution that didn’t work, but I’ve refined the pole and worked through the problems,” says Mikael.
Mikael is producing prototypes at The Wood Region, an open test and development environment in Sysslebäck, Sweden. This is a centre specialised in creating prototypes from wood-based biocomposites using additive manufacturing, namely 3D printing.
The test center is managed collectively by a team of representatives from organisations such as the bioeconomy cluster Paper Province, the innovation arena Dalarna Science Park and local stakeholder Torsby Municipality.
The Wood Region has been an important part of efforts to keep the momentum of his innovation throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“Naturally, the pandemic has slowed the process, but now that we can print a few prototypes, more people can start testing them properly, which is something that hasn’t been possible before,” says Mikael.
Moreover, Mikael says that he has gained valuable knowledge from his partnership with The Wood Region.
“It’s extremely valuable to get advice on how to design things that are to be printed. I’ve sent 3D models and received feedback on how to modify them for printing. You have to reach a compromise, so that design and function can meet.”
Mikael’s goal is for his new pole to prove popular among elite skiers.
“That’s a given, otherwise there’s no point in continuing,” he says.
Mikael hopes that the pole will be fully developed and market-ready by next season.