By Women, For Women
Thinking beyond the "shrink it and pink it" design for women's skis.
This project all began when I reviewed the design of a highly ranked women's ski and discovered that the ski was the exact same version as the men's model. The only difference being a slightly lighter wood, a shorter length and a pretty picture on top. As a passionate skier myself, I felt frustrated by the lack of thoughtful product design for women in the ski and sports industry as a whole. So I took matters into my own hands. This project aims to research and design a female-specific twin tip ski built specifically for women, by women.
Why this matters
Women make up over 40% of skiers yet the majority of ski equipment is still made by men, for men. When women purchase skis, they're essentially buying the lower quality, lighter and "girlier" version of the men's model; also known as the "shrink it and pink it" version. And in a single season of skiing, 1/3 of the women I compete with have suffered an injury cutting their season short. I wonder how much of this can be attributed to product design (or lack thereof)? I believe the lack of female-specific research and design in ski equipment, and sports equipment as a whole, could be impactful on the rate of sports-related injuries. This project is just the beginning to my hope to changing the sports industry as a whole and advocating for more women-centric product design in sports.
Research and design
In order to design and build proper skis for women's bodies, I conducted extensive user and market research. In my research, I determined that weight, center of gravity and lower body build are the key physical differences that need to be addressed in the design process for women. After researching, I designed and modeled several design variations in ski and binding designs in NX, then used HSMWorks and Solidworks for manufacturing.
Prepping the Materials and Mold
In choosing the proper materials for the build, I wanted the final skis to be flexible, light and durable. While I stuck with the industry standard for many layers, I chose the lowest weight of composite fabrics to minimize weight. I also built the ski with a hybrid sidewall to increase ski durability. I also designed and built the ski shapes to be perfectly symmetrical. The binding area underfoot was also slightly inclined to account for women's lower center of gravity.
Laying up the Ski
Once each layer of material was selected, designed and prepared, I laid up the materials and vacuum pressed the ski layers together for the final shape.
The skis work! They are light and playful. Sturdy for the park, although stability at high speeds could be improved on the next iteration.