Skiers complaining about painful knees after a long day on the slopes are increasingly a thing of the past.
Around 500 ski instructors have enjoyed the support of “exoskeleton knees” this season, said Gabriel Castelain, who is the French distributor of British Ski-Mojo knees.
“Think of it like riding an electric bicycle,” he said, speaking to Connexion – before France went into coronavirus lockdown.
“You still have to pedal but when the going gets tough, you have a little bit of help.”
Ski-Mojo works with springs which, once strapped on to a skier’s legs, take around 30% of the weight off the joint.
“It means people can ski for longer without getting tired, they get fewer aches and pains, make fewer mistakes due to fatigue, and therefore fall less often, which means they suffer fewer injuries.
“Essentially, it makes skiing more fun.”
The aids do not restrict movement in the knee, and therefore do not protect against injury if a fall occurs, but they take some of the work out of skiing, meaning that, as well as the knees, the back and hips also work less.
“People are surprised when they try them for the first time, and then they quickly get used to them,” Mr Castelain said.
“Ski instructors, who spend long days on the slopes, love them.
“So do sports enthusiasts who haven’t had time to do intensive training before their ski holiday, and mature skiers who might not otherwise have the strength or energy to ski.
“They really work best for people who know how to ski quite well.”
A pair of Ski-Mojo knees weighs 1.5 kilos, but they are not suitable for walking, or other activities away from the snow.
The knees, which can be worn under or over ski trousers, are available for hire in around 150 of the largest ski resorts.
“It costs around €50 a day to hire a pair, but it is free if you decide to buy them at the end of the day, which more than 90% of people who have tried them have done.”
At around €600 a pair, they are not cheap – but for professionals and ski enthusiasts, it seems that it is a price worth paying, as around 7,000 pairs have been sold in the past five years.