How many of you can remember the Nordic Track ski machine that was so popular in the 1980s-90s. Well the sad news is that its inventor Ed Pauls died at his home in Motrose, Colo on October the 9th 2011 aged 80.
His daughter, Terri Pauls, said he had complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr Pauls was a mechanical engineer who designed ski boots for the Rosemount Company. He was also a keen cross-country skier.
After a pretty miserable ski session in the Minneapolis suburbs due to the cold and wetter than normal weather conditions he began to wonder if an indoor ski simulator could be designed that he could use in the warmth of his own home.
His first idea used real ski boots, strapped to real wooden skies but as time went on he tweaked the design to resemble the skier we now know. Although even then it looked like something the Spanish Inquisition would use.
He originally called it the Nordic Jock but legend has it he had to change that name after complaints from a women’s rights group.
He took his machine to trade shows and exhibitions and advertised in major American magazines but sales were slow. Then in the early eighties Bill Koch, an Olympic silver medallist endorsed it and sales rocketed. By the mid 80s turnover was $5 million and all the orders were taken over the phone or by mail, at his home by him and his wife.
In 1986 he sold the company for $22 million.
The new owners, The Nordic Track Company opened 300 stores and sales went through the roof topping $450 million by the mid 1990’s.
However the success was not to last.
The ski machine was difficult to use even by athletic, co-ordinated users and it soon got around that most people bought it and used it as a clothes rack. The commercial units sold to gyms didn’t fair much better. No one wants to publicly look stupid and awkward so these became unpopular as well.
In 1998 the company was declared bankrupt. Stock at its warehouse was sold as scrap. And the plant was closed down. The name was bought by Icon of Weider and Pro Form fame but the machine appears to have gone for good.
Mr Pauls survivors include his wife of 52 years, two children, one who is a champion cross country skier and two grandchildren.