MAY 1, 2013
BY: STEVE HARTMAN
In this skis.com podcast, Steve sits down with POC representative Geoff Backbrake and they discuss some of the latest technology for helmets and body armor, what sets POC apart from their competitors and a way to avoid sliding twenty feet on a sheet of ice.
STEVE: Hello and thank you for listening to another podcast. I’m Steve, I’m the host, and of course you’re going through skis.com or snowboards.com to take a listen to us. Across from me today I have Geoff Bonebrake. He is a representative for POC. Now, POC creates protective gear for athletes and was built on the mission to do everything possible to save lives and reduce consequences of accidents. How are you doing today, Geoff?
GEOFF: I’m good, Steve. Thanks for having me.
STEVE: Sure. Now, when I started skiing which was years and years and years ago, helmets were a rarity but now I rarely don’t see people wearing them. With all the helmets I see out there now, how does POC differentiate their helmets from the competitor?
GEOFF: Well there are a lot of helmets out there and there are a few reasons on why people are wearing more helmets but on the background of POC, they’re a Swedish company that’s, like you said, very much in tuned to reducing the severity of the injuries resulting from accidents and they actually have their own POC lab outside of Stockholm where all the members are actually MDs with PhDs. They bring together the world’s foremost sports medicine experts, back specialists, brain scientists, even material technologists as well as X Games riders and elite World Cup athletes all to work on more safety from injuries resulting from accidents. Primarily because speeds are increasing on the World Cup level, drops and jumps are higher, the risk of injury is much greater than it used to be so there is a need for more protection then ever before.
STEVE: And, of course, POC has all the PhDs and MDs really working to make sure everyone stays safe. Now, of course, POC is big on protective gear. Besides helmets and goggles, is there protective equipment that you feel is not being utilized enough by the consumer?
GEOFF: You know, it’s beginning to turn towards what we call body armor and it doesn’t have to be armor like, you know, a shining knight. What we use is a Visco Elastic Polymer Dough, it’s actually, we call it VPD and one of the key items that I think would help people the most is something we offer called the VPD Spine Back and all it is is a spine protector. We also offer it as a vest, a jacket and shorts. But this material that it’s made out of is flexible, it’s lightweight, it does breath and, most importantly, it’s multi-impact. And what it is is it’s almost like a dough that moves and transitions to your body but as soon as there’s an impact it becomes instantly hard protecting you from the whatever object you’ve hit and when you consider the amount of the distances these guys are jumping and the heights they’re landing from, it’s very helpful especially on your spine, back, chest to have this body armor as well and it’s contoured to your body and it’s light weight so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything extra.
S: Okay, now I mostly ski blue squares. I do go to black diamonds, if I feel I’ve really well I might even do a double black diamond. I don’t know if I would personally benefit from this but what kind of skier would? Or is it best that I should start considering this?
G: Well that’s where you get into the various levels of protection and anybody, I think would benefit from using some of the features whether it’s just the shorts or the spine piece for your back. But obviously freestyle people would need it; you fall backwards onto a rail, the lip of a half-pipe, you’re going to wish you had some type of protection and then as more and more people ski side country, backcountry, there’s trees, there’s rocks, all this stuff. The helmet is easy but you want to protect the rest of your body too and that’s where this body armor with the VPD comes in, it really could help everybody.
S: Right. Now tell me about the 3P POC, it’s called Partially Polarized Lens for the goggles.
G: All right, that 3P POC is that Partially Polarized and what it is is a material which is proprietary for us and we call it NXT, it’s a polymer and it originally came from the military with jet canopies. So they had extra clarity, you could see whatever it was that was going on. But what it is, is it’s got a vision boosting high-chromatic definition filter in it as well as photo chromatic filter and the photo chromatic changes light and dark depending on the sunshine amount, the light conditions and offers extreme contrast, that way you can see ice versus snow so you what to expect as you’re skiing, again with speed. It’s oleophobic which means you can touch it and the oils of your skin won’t mess it up. It’s hydrophobic so it doesn’t steam up or get fogged. Anti-scratch and anti-fog. It is arguably one of the finest lens materials you can use and it really outperforms almost any other lens material made.
S: Yeah, I made a trip out to Montana last year and it sounds like a goggle lens I could’ve used. I hit a patch of ice toward the end of the day and you don’t really realize at the end of the day when the sun’s shining it can really melt the snow, ice up and I hit a patch and slid on my butt for about twenty feet.
G: Yep, and it really does help to be able to tell especially at the end of the day when things are setting up again to see where the ice patches are and brace yourself for them.
S: Now, what are some of the other technologies that POC uses to create greater comfort and protection?
G: Well, a couple of the key things they use in the majority of the helmets, or the vast majority of them is they use an EPP foam which is a multi-impact foam. It’s way safer as far as it can handle multiple impacts. For a racer it’s really important because they’re hitting gates constantly over and over and multi-impact EPP keeps the helmet in its shape and keeps providing the security. We also use liners that you can pull out and machine wash so they don’t get all stinky in your race bag by the end of the season and again for protection we also use an Aramid or a Kevlar shield that can be a couple different ways it can cover the helmet or it can be a bridge and that gives the helmet structure, strength, lightweight and any type of penetration proof, it gives it penetration properties so you don’t have to worry about sticks and things going in and poking through.
S: One of the things you mentioned, that EPP, I’m not sure how many people are aware of it, until I kind of learned more about helmets, I wasn’t even aware of it but if you take a good hit with the helmet then pretty much you shouldn’t wear that helmet again.
G: Correct. Expanded Polystyrene – EPS – is what most helmets are made out of and they are one single impact, if you fall on a catwalk, you should be throwing away that helmet. It likely has a crack in the foam. But with EPP which we use on all our top-line and race helmets, you can continue to bash that helmet and it will maintain its shape and rebound and provide you with a lot longer life.
S: Excellent. Well, Geoff thank you very much for your time today and again everyone thank you for listening. Check out POC on skis.com and snowboards.com. And, stay tuned for more podcasts.