Discovering a better boot design

The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Discovering a better boot design

Building a better skate starts with the fundamentals of skating. It’s a process that extends from body to blades.

Kinesiology professor, Kelly Lockwood, is currently researching the hockey skate boot design to address the proper amount of flexion and support. The evolution of the hockey boot has seen the industry develop a “lighter, and stiffer” boot with the use of carbon fiber.

The solution to the problem isn’t found solely on the ice, Lockwood conducts 3D motion analysis in her skate lab to address skating mechanics using a skating treadmill.

“All testing starts in the lab, utilizing different skate designs to look at the transfer of motion through the skate to performance”, says Lockwood, “if we stopped there we certainly wouldn’t be addressing the game or real on ice scenarios, the next step in the research involves on ice drills investigating the impact of boot design on skate function".

Lockwood’s research is funded by the Federal Economic Development Applied Research Council (FEDARC), which is a provincially funded body that puts researchers and industries together to address current problems.

With years of professional experience on the ice, Claude Lemieux, Chairman of Graf Canada, Ex-NHL hockey player and 3-time Stanley cup winner, has been working on this project with Lockwood for the past 6 months.

“We are in the middle of validating the point that lighter and stiffer boots have not made the game faster” says Lemieux, “there have been rule changes that have made the game faster, like taking away the red line and getting rid of obstruction and hooking, but I don’t believe the players themselves have gotten any faster”.

Testing for speed, is not the only calculation for a successful boot design, emerging injuries including lace bite and bone spurs have cut the careers short of many pro athletes; and now an emerging epidemic in young athletes.

The solution for most athletes may be determined by the boot design itself, but for many players, their foot just doesn’t fit the standard boot. Troy Crowder, Ex-NHL hockey player, had this problem and struggled with it for much of his career, prompting him to find a solution for the outliers that don’t fit the standard boot.

“Guys who are good skaters, are the guys that fit in their skates” says Crowder, “Everyone has a length of a foot and a width, but we also have to consider the size of the shin and ankle bones”

To remedy this he has patented a lace extender that clips onto the skate to increase the amount of flexion. Working with Lockwood, this apparatus will help provide the support and flexion needed for a full and proper stride. Research is currently underway to have this product tested to find the right materials to secure the apparatus to the skate.

The Discovery Channel has profiled this research and will be airing the program early in 2012. Please stay tuned for additional program details.