When it comes to inventing better ski gear, the Olympics are like a mission to space. Just as airplane de-icers and those anti-slip grooves cut in highways all came about thanks to NASA-inspired innovations, the Games force gear companies to come up with new fabrics and features to meet athlete demands. In January, Columbia Sportswear, which designed the U.S. Olympic mogul ski team uniform once before, unveils the 2018 team uniform featuring technology and designs that were athlete-inspired and years in the making. Now the best of those breakthroughs come to you. Below, Columbia’s Olympic freestyle Moguls jacket with Games-specific features, as well as some of the tech we normal folks get when our stars ask for the moon.
Want one? Check out the Men’s OutDry EX Mogul Jacket: $450, Columbia.com.
OutDry Extreme: Typically, waterproof-breathable membranes are too fragile to place on a garment’s exterior, but a high-density polymer top coat solves that issue and makes it chemically impossible for the material to “wet out.” That’s not new. What is: Columbia’s Materials Research Team found a way to give that membrane a four-way stretch. The result is a hardshell that moves like a softshell.
Hood: Hoods are functional and stylish, of course, but they also flop around, especially mid-backflip. Small fasteners on top of the hood and the back of the jacket keep the hood down, even when the skier goes inverted.
Light Rail Zipper: Columbia’s Performance Innovation Team ditched the need for zipper tape by bonding laser-cut zippers directly onto the shell for a lightweight, waterproof enclosure that’s almost invisible when closed.
Snow Camo: Judges ding mogul skiers if they look like they’re flailing. To hide point-sucking body movement, designers created a “snow camouflage,” using grays and whites that blend into the background and help hide extra movement.
Knee Patches: Judges watch a skiers’ knees to see how tightly they’re locked and knee patches help show off that form. Each athlete wants those patches in specific spots, though, so Columbia made them easy for skiers and coaches to apply them themselves.
On the Inside (not shown)
Magnetic Goggle Pocket: A roomy goggle pocket gets a magnetic closure that makes it easy to store and remove gear without the fuss of elastic.
Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective: Tiny silver dots on the inside of the garment act like mini space blankets that reflect and retain heat while the pattern in which those dots are placed keeps the material breathable. The upshot is more warmth with less bulk. You won’t be able to see it on TV, but designers used those dots to create an emblem on the inside of the Olympic version of the uniform that features an eagle, stars, skis, and wings. Columbia also designed the Canadian team uniform. They get a maple leaf.
Want to learn more about Olympic Gear? Check out the Anatomy of an Olympic Race Ski.