The Story of Fat Paddles
Deep in Utah's backcountry during a blower powder day. Skiing on some really fat skis Dave had lent me I was having a ball in a seriously old aspen groove. Alas, I got distracted, took a tumble, and popped out of my skis. One ski crashed into a tree not too far away. The other, headed down the mountain at increasing speed. Not cool. After having to walk down the hill I had worked so hard to get up before, I realized that Ski Brakes were kind of a joke. Originally created to stop a ski from rocketing towards someone on the slopes how could they suck so much? Even on groomed runs the ski brakes ability to stop a modern ski was laughable. Dave and I then set out on an adventure of plastic, rubber bands, and anything else we could strap to a ski.
Problem to Solution
How to solve this problem? Each manufacturer has a slightly different design to their ski brake and how they mount to the binding. A lot of us nut-jobs have multiple pairs of skis as well, so we started with the premise that the Fat Paddle would have to fit on existing ski brakes, and be able to be switched in a matter of seconds (seconds count with fresh tracks).
After cutting apart and fitting a number of rubber pieces to the brake we realized this really was as simple as that. The first prototype (rubber items cut up and attached to the ski) were most effective in Powder and still did the job on groomers and travelers.
So I contacted Larry Kotzian who has been in the auto industry for many many years. He had produced all kinds of crazy little parts that help cars go, shift, stop, etc. and knew the right people to go to for production.
After machining our first real prototype we found the design not only worked, but it worked really well (confirmed by a number of tumbles in both powder and groomed/travel runs). Thrilled with the operation we went to our friends in Spring Lake, MI to discuss production. A number or issues cropped up with production, keeping costs down, and avoiding manual steps. So on to the next prototype we took into account the production concerns raised as well as the function of the product. Not as confident with the new design, testing commenced; skiing, tossing skis down the hill, falling, tumbling etc. This is one of those times when I was ecstatic at how wrong I was. These worked better than anything we have seen and even on hard-pack, corn, crud, etc. Woo and Hoo were heard a lot around the mountains of Utah that winter.
Fat Paddles in Production
Now we have the prototype, the die design needed to minimize production issues, and the shop that would produce them (the cleanest and most organized shop ever seen)! We are offering some really great Kickstarter exclusive products and exclusive colors that will NEVER be produced again. Take a look around and enjoy the down!
Kim and Dave