Aaron Coret knows better than anyone that whilst snowboarding can offer the ultimate thrill, it can also be gravely dangerous. Seven years ago, the then-student and budding professional snowboarder was left paralysed from the neck down after attempting a 50ft jump at a Canadian ski resort. For many snowboarders, such a terrible accident would have put them off the sport for life, but not Aaron. He has since gone on to design a landing pad which helps boarders to attempt challenging jumps without the risk of any serious injury.
After spending forty days in a Vancouver hospital after the accident, Aaron returned to finish his engineering degree at university. It was during this time that he and his best friend and now business partner Stephen Slen made a prototype of the landing pad as part of their final year design project.
Aaron says that the hardest part of the design process was realising that although it may seem that the cushioning chamber has to dump air when a boarder lands on the pad, this is not actually the case. The final pad works because it’s already slightly deflated on landing, but with air pumps constantly inflating it again. However it works, it has clearly been a massive success. Last year, Aaron and Stephen’s company, Katal Innovations, won an innovation award from Popular Science.
Interestingly, the landing pads are manufactured by a business which makes bouncy castles. After all, it would be hard to think of anyone else with such great experience of stitching and constructing inflatables.Katal Innovations have recently taken an order from a Russian ski resort, and with reports showing that air-bags can be an excellent safety mitigation tool, they have had interest from all over the world. Aaron’s story is truly inspirational and demonstrates such an amazing passion for snowboarding. We wish him all the best for the future.
Watch Aaron’s landing pad in action
This shows that something positive can come out of a disaster, and that with people like Aaron learning new skills and having fun doesn’t have to be dangerous.