The website for Bauer, just one of the biggest names in ice hockey products and attire, lists 26 choices for shoulder pads, which present shoulder and higher torso safety for players in what can be a pretty quick and hazardous activity.
Of those people 26 models for youth and older people, accurately one is created especially for ladies. The other significant participant in hockey gear, CCM, also has just a single women’s model marketed on its site.
“It is surprising that the males have so many solutions and the girl have just one particular,” mentioned Tulasi Elangovan, M.A. ’23, a previous member of the Functionality Attire Design Lab, directed by Heeju Park, associate professor of clothing style and design in the College of Human Ecology (CHE).
However not a hockey particular person, Elangovan determined to make this difficulty hers, far too. Element of her inspiration: the truth that, according to United states Hockey, the maximize in woman registrants in 2017-18 outpaced their male counterparts by additional than 7 to 1.
“That’s just this sort of an inequality in the marketplace,” Elangovan explained, “especially when women’s ice hockey is truly growing at a significantly more quickly fee than men’s.”
Final 12 months, when pursuing her master’s in clothing style and design, Elangovan devoted many months to looking into and building a prototype for a shoulder pad made especially for females. That layout, educated by contributions from the nationally rated Cornell women’s hockey staff, is becoming viewed as for doable patent defense by Cornell Technologies Licensing (CTL), with whom Park has labored carefully for many months.
After Elangovan graduated, another member of Park’s lab, master’s college student Huieun Do, joined the project Do is concentrating on improving design and functionality of decrease-overall body (thigh to ankle) protective equipment.
In accordance to Ryan Luebke, associate director of business development and licensing at CTL, Elangovan and Park have a superior likelihood of obtaining design and style patent safety, for which they’ll be applying in the coming months.
Addressing a difficulty
Elangovan’s involvement in a sport about which she knew pretty small began after Doug Derraugh ’91, the Everett Loved ones Head Mentor of Women’s Ice Hockey, read through a Cornell Chronicle tale about wearable sensors that could be utilised to evaluate movement, respiration and exhaustion in athletes, with the purpose of minimizing accidents and bettering instruction and efficiency.
“I thought, man, that would be intriguing for a mentor, if you had content in an athlete’s outfits that could actually measure critical stats and matters,” stated Derraugh, a previous substantial-scoring ahead for the Cornell men’s hockey crew who played professionally in Europe for 13 a long time ahead of returning to his alma mater in 2005.
Derraugh compensated a pay a visit to to Park to inquire about wearable sensors, and Park explained to him about Elangovan and her perform.
“We commenced chatting about how wearable technological know-how could become aspect of a training outfit or a official ice hockey uniform,” Park reported. “And then he talked about a good deal of difficulties – his gamers are suffering from accidents, as effectively issue and anxiety mainly because it is a quite tricky sport, it is a make contact with sport, and the gear, the skate blade, it can all be extremely hazardous at some point.”
Elangovan said that when she looked into women’s hockey machines more intently, “I recognized that this is an spot that I could discover and that wanted exploration, and some form of exploration and improvement.”
For female athletes in contact sporting activities, a notably vulnerable place is the breasts, which are extremely inclined to harm because of to their area and the absence of musculoskeletal security.
Elangovan started by interviewing nearly a dozen users of the Major Red women’s workforce, whom she observed supportive, enthusiastic and useful.
“It just built it a lot easier to technique the venture,” she claimed of the team’s willingness. “I preferred to make sure that I went in with zero assumptions, that practically nothing was a presented, and that if there was anything from the comments that they gave me that was surprising, that would grow to be a critical element of the examine itself.”
“Being that we typically use machines created for men, it’s not as slim-fitting for girls or accommodating for the unique body forms,” reported the 5-foot-11 Rory Guilday ’25, who won gold with Staff United states of america at the 2023 Global Ice Hockey Federation Women’s Globe Championships, in April in Brampton, Ontario.
“Sometimes, if you want much more defense, you will go for a more substantial measurement,” claimed Guilday, one of the team’s three captains. “But then it does not match somewhere else.”
“I would say the largest difficulty is that protecting equipment just has by no means been designed considering the difference in anatomy, which is type of insane contemplating there is a really large change,” reported 5-foot-3 Ashley Messier ’25, who also performs protection and is a staff captain. “We just by no means really knew any improved. We just wore the products, not seriously recognizing that it could be a whole lot extra efficient and at ease and protective.”
Whole-physique 3D scans
After conducting participant interviews, Elangovan invited group associates to the Digital Manner & System Scan Investigate Lab, operate by Fatma Baytar, assistant professor of human centered design (CHE). The lab has a complete-entire body scanner that uses 8 cameras and 4 eye-safe and sound lasers to capture about 300,000 facts points for each individual scan.
In accordance to Park, the scans pointed to a vital variation relevant to the suit of shoulder pads for adult males and females.
“We recognized that in people today of the very same overall body top, the woman torso is shorter than the male torso,” he explained. “It’s a statistically significant variance that performs a vital purpose in enhancing safety, mobility and convenience for female players.”
Elangovan did various scans for just about every of the collaborating players, and all those pictures aided her occur up with a women’s shoulder pad style that she thinks will give a improved healthy for the contours of the woman physique, along with larger protection.
A good healthy is not only protecting, Elangovan reported, but it aids players focus on the ice.
“You want to make absolutely sure that the equipment that you have provided the gamers can protect them from all sorts of impact,” she mentioned. “That’s the only way that these players can actually complete at their maximum ability otherwise, they are heading to be anxious about slippage of gear, or a little something finding caught in one more player’s adhere, or the puck having someplace it should not. All of these are items that are heading to detract from the players’ functionality and self-confidence.”
The Large Red players praised Elangovan’s perform and determination.
“She was great,” mentioned forward Abby Ruggiero ’24. “It was awesome to see someone in her area glance at athletics in a distinct gentle, and really go to perform on it. I come to feel like we chat about (products) but no just one ever does everything about it, and she did.
“Now I’m rethinking my devices,” she mentioned, “and how it must fit me. It was awesome to have her walk in and variety of glimpse at it from a distinct perspective.”
“She did a fantastic job, particularly contemplating she didn’t have a track record in hockey,” stated Messier, whose father and uncle performed briefly in the NHL and whose 2nd cousin is Hockey Corridor of Famer Mark Messier. “It didn’t definitely seem to issue she was incredibly diligent. She took our suggestions and what we experienced knowledgeable, and seriously applied it pretty well.”
Derraugh, who has been on the Staff Canada coaching staff members at Wintertime Olympics and Environment Championship tournaments, was content to be a section of the undertaking.
“You’re generally seeking for possibilities to give again and support the woman video game, whether or not that is selling it or encouraging it be superior from an machines standpoint,” he said. “The game is having quicker, and making it possible for additional and extra speak to. The tools must be better, as very well.”