Local inventor aims to help ski racers

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- In ski racing, every second counts. The slightest variation from perfect form can mean the difference between finishing first and finishing last. A racer’s most common mistake is not being far enough forward on their skis. It's a problem a local inventor is trying to fix.

Chris Bender, a ski instructor at Sky Tavern, has invented a system called Forward Ski.

"I would like to be somebody that came along and made a big difference in skiing," said Bender.

Bender was inspired several years ago to invent a way to improve his racers' form.

"It was me watching a kid do the turns correctly for two or three gates in a race course, and then practice the wrong thing for 20 more gates," said Bender.

Traditionally, racers watch film or are told at the end of a race what they did wrong. Bender wanted them to get instant feedback so they can fix their form while they are still in the middle of a run.

"If you get instant feedback and know you are doing something wrong, you are going to correct it. and that is what do," said Bender.

After seven years of work, Forward Ski is finally on the market. It's a pressure sensor placed inside the ski boot between the tongue and the skier’s shin. It ensures racers are leaning forward. If they lean back, they hear a buzz in their ear through a bluetooth connected earbud. That sound indicates they are out of balance.

"You put the system on them and virtually in one ski run, they get it. Because everything else is where it is supposed to be," said Bender. "What Forward Ski does is it helps you maintain that mechanics of coming around the corner and being in the correct line."

Forward Ski has already been adopted by several Tahoe-area ski teams, but the product right now is still in its infancy. Bender hopes to grow it into something that can help skiers for years to come.

"There is about 30 things you need to do right to make a racing turn and ten of them are pretty critical and any one of the ten will cost you time," said Bender.

Forward Ski is designed and manufactured in Reno. Many of the parts are sourced locally.