Ski enthusiasts are putting away their water skis and wakeboards and thinking about pulling out their snow skis and snowboards in preparation for the coming season. Local inventor John Crowley has patented an invention that will bring new convenience to their ski season, and it’s already getting two thumbs up reviews from area skiers.
Crowley will be marketing the K-K Ski Boot Jack to ski centers, resorts, and sporting goods retailers this fall.
The boot jack, which is fabricated in a shop near Potter, consists of an apparatus that secures a boot in place to allow the wearer to easily slip a foot into the boot or to lift his or her foot out of the boot.
Shelly Fiumano, a member of the ski patrol at Bristol Mountain, says the boot jack would be a welcome addition in their locker room. “After being on the mountain all day we sit down and say, ‘I wish I had someone to take these boots off!’”
Ron Fitzgerald, who has been skiing for more than 45 years says Crowley has a real hit that will be especially welcomed by older skiers. “It really is quite an invention. It has a lot of potential.” he says.
How did a horseman like Crowley come up with the idea for a gadget for skiers? When the boot jack he used to remove his cowboy boots just wasn’t doing the trick anymore, he came up with the concept for a special boot jack.
His patent attorney, an international skiier, liked the nifty idea Crowley brought to him, but he suggested the ski application might be more profitable.
Crowley got to work on adapting the device for ski boots, and working with Elvin Hurst, owner of Little Mountain Mfg., developed the K-K Ski Boot Jack. Ten have been built so far, and last winter Crowley took them to area ski lodges for demonstrations, where users have been enthusiastic and the devices have withstood more than 500 uses.
Crowley has been encouraged by feedback including comments from a couple who suggested he consider marketing the device to European ski centers.
If the popularity of the item takes off, Crowley is confident Hurst will be able to meet the demand from his Yates County shop. Hurst says it takes between 90 minutes and two hours to build one boot jack, and an assembly line approach could result in efficiencies.
The boot jack is adjustable so it can easily be used by skiers of all sizes — from children to adult size 14 1/2, says Crowley.
For more information about the boot jack, visit www.kwikjawcutter.com/k-ks-boot-jack.html.