The internet site for Bauer, just one of the most significant names in ice hockey tools and apparel, lists 26 choices for shoulder pads, which present shoulder and upper torso security for players in what can be a incredibly rapidly and risky sport.
Of those people 26 types for youth and grown ups, accurately one is produced specially for females. The other main player in hockey gear, CCM, also has just a single women’s product advertised on its web-site.
“It is stunning that the adult males have so several solutions and the female have just one,” said Tulasi Elangovan, M.A. ’23, a former member of the Effectiveness Apparel Layout Lab, directed by Heeju Park, affiliate professor of attire style in the College of Human Ecology (CHE).
Though not a hockey particular person, Elangovan resolved to make this issue hers, as well. Aspect of her enthusiasm: the point that, according to Usa Hockey, the maximize in female registrants in 2017-18 outpaced their male counterparts by much more than 7 to 1.
“That’s just this sort of an inequality in the sector,” Elangovan explained, “especially when women’s ice hockey is really increasing at a much speedier fee than men’s.”
Very last 12 months, even though pursuing her master’s in clothing style, Elangovan committed many months to studying and building a prototype for a shoulder pad made specially for ladies. That style and design, knowledgeable by contributions from the nationally rated Cornell women’s hockey workforce, is becoming viewed as for probable patent safety by Cornell Engineering Licensing (CTL), with whom Park has worked carefully for numerous months.
Immediately after Elangovan graduated, a different member of Park’s lab, master’s student Huieun Do, joined the job Do is focusing on improving layout and function of reduced-human body (thigh to ankle) protecting gear.
According to Ryan Luebke, affiliate director of business progress and licensing at CTL, Elangovan and Park have a excellent likelihood of acquiring design and style patent defense, for which they’ll be applying in the coming months.
Addressing a challenge
Elangovan’s involvement in a sport about which she realized quite small commenced right after Doug Derraugh ’91, the Everett Household Head Coach of Women’s Ice Hockey, examine a Cornell Chronicle story about wearable sensors that could be made use of to measure motion, respiration and fatigue in athletes, with the goal of decreasing accidents and improving upon instruction and overall performance.
“I assumed, guy, that would be exciting for a mentor, if you had product in an athlete’s clothing that could essentially measure critical figures and items,” mentioned Derraugh, a previous high-scoring ahead for the Cornell men’s hockey team who played skillfully in Europe for 13 several years in advance of returning to his alma mater in 2005.
Derraugh paid out a take a look at to Park to inquire about wearable sensors, and Park informed him about Elangovan and her work.
“We started out speaking about how wearable technologies could develop into component of a teaching outfit or a formal ice hockey uniform,” Park claimed. “And then he talked about a great deal of troubles – his players are struggling from accidents, as nicely worry and stress and anxiety due to the fact it’s a quite hard recreation, it’s a contact sport, and the equipment, the skate blade, it can all be pretty dangerous at some stage.”
Elangovan stated that when she looked into women’s hockey machines much more closely, “I understood that this is an spot that I could investigate and that wanted exploration, and some type of exploration and improvement.”
For feminine athletes in speak to sports, a especially vulnerable spot is the breasts, which are highly susceptible to injuries due to their location and the deficiency of musculoskeletal security.
Elangovan began by interviewing almost a dozen members of the Massive Crimson women’s team, whom she identified supportive, enthusiastic and handy.
“It just made it less difficult to method the undertaking,” she stated of the team’s willingness. “I wished to make positive that I went in with zero assumptions, that very little was a given, and that if there was anything from the feed-back that they gave me that was unpredicted, that would develop into a key element of the research itself.”
“Being that we usually don gear intended for adult men, it is not as slender-fitting for females or accommodating for the unique entire body forms,” reported the 5-foot-11 Rory Guilday ’25, who won gold with Team United states at the 2023 Intercontinental Ice Hockey Federation Women’s Earth Championships, in April in Brampton, Ontario.
“Sometimes, if you want far more protection, you will go for a even bigger dimensions,” explained Guilday, just one of the team’s a few captains. “But then it does not match someplace else.”
“I would say the most important issue is that protecting equipment just has in no way been manufactured thinking of the change in anatomy, which is type of crazy looking at there is a fairly huge difference,” said 5-foot-3 Ashley Messier ’25, who also performs defense and is a crew captain. “We just in no way genuinely realized any superior. We just wore the tools, not truly recognizing that it could be a lot a lot more productive and relaxed and protective.”
Entire-body 3D scans
Just after conducting participant interviews, Elangovan invited crew users to the Electronic Style & Human body Scan Research Lab, run by Fatma Baytar, assistant professor of human centered design (CHE). The lab has a total-system scanner that utilizes eight cameras and 4 eye-risk-free lasers to capture about 300,000 data details for each scan.
According to Park, the scans pointed to a essential difference similar to the in good shape of shoulder pads for men and women of all ages.
“We realized that in people of the exact same entire body peak, the woman torso is shorter than the male torso,” he explained. “It’s a statistically substantial big difference that performs a essential part in enhancing security, mobility and convenience for woman players.”
Elangovan did a lot of scans for each and every of the taking part gamers, and those illustrations or photos assisted her come up with a women’s shoulder pad design and style that she thinks will offer you a greater suit for the contours of the female human body, together with larger protection.
A good in shape is not only protecting, Elangovan explained, but it assists gamers focus on the ice.
“You want to make confident that the equipment that you’ve provided the gamers can secure them from all sorts of effect,” she mentioned. “That’s the only way that these gamers can really conduct at their highest potential normally, they are going to be nervous about slippage of gear, or one thing obtaining caught in an additional player’s stick, or the puck finding someplace it should not. All of these are matters that are heading to detract from the players’ overall performance and assurance.”
The Huge Red gamers praised Elangovan’s get the job done and perseverance.
“She was excellent,” said ahead Abby Ruggiero ’24. “It was great to see somebody in her industry seem at athletics in a diverse light-weight, and actually go to work on it. I feel like we talk about (gear) but no a person at any time does nearly anything about it, and she did.
“Now I’m rethinking my devices,” she reported, “and how it really should suit me. It was awesome to have her stroll in and sort of appear at it from a distinctive perspective.”
“She did a wonderful career, in particular looking at she didn’t have a history in hockey,” mentioned Messier, whose father and uncle played briefly in the NHL and whose next cousin is Hockey Corridor of Famer Mark Messier. “It did not actually look to make any difference she was quite diligent. She took our suggestions and what we experienced experienced, and actually used it pretty well.”
Derraugh, who has been on the Staff Canada coaching workers at Winter Olympics and World Championship tournaments, was happy to be a portion of the venture.
“You’re usually looking for opportunities to give back and assist the woman recreation, no matter if that’s advertising it or supporting it be greater from an devices standpoint,” he said. “The recreation is obtaining quicker, and allowing more and more make contact with. The devices must be improved, as perfectly.”