Whitehorse tech startup named official supplier for Alpine Canada

·2 min read
A skier with Alpine Canada's women's team. The team is now using Protern.io for training, a technology developed by Whitehorse startup Proskida. (Alpine Canada - image credit)
A skier with Alpine Canada's women's team. The team is now using Protern.io for training, a technology developed by Whitehorse startup Proskida. (Alpine Canada - image credit)

It's been a bit of a winding trail for Proskida, but the Whitehorse startup company has found its way into the world of elite, competitive skiing and is now an official supplier for Alpine Canada.

"Where we are now is not exactly where we thought we would be two or three years ago, but it's certainly welcome as it is," said Alastair Smith, Proskida's CEO and founder.

The company initially developed innovative ski-pole grips for competitive cross-country skiers to track their power and efficiency while racing. The grips were embedded with electronic gear that took fine measurements of a skier's performance.

The grips didn't set the skiing world on fire, but they did open doors for the Yukon entrepreneurs.

"We made a really good technology that unfortunately just was not quite commercially viable. But what it introduced us to were these top-level teams and coaches all around the world," Smith said.

Cheryl Kawaja/CBC
Cheryl Kawaja/CBC

Feedback from those ski teams revealed a better opportunity; there may not have been big demand for ski pole grips, but there was an appetite for technology that collected detailed performance data.

That led to Protern.io — a combination of software with a small sensor that alpine skiers wear on their backs while training. It collects location and speed data about 10 times per second.

"[It] basically gathers a ton of performance data and then lets athletes and coaches focus on areas that are sort of challenging, or ... where they need to improve," Smith said.

"It really makes it easy for them to find insights so that they can ultimately improve faster, which is kind of their main goal, of course."

The technology has already been adopted by national teams in several countries, but Smith is excited that it's now being used by Alpine Canada's athletes.

Submitted by Alastair Smith
Submitted by Alastair Smith

"The men's alpine team, the women's alpine team and the para-alpine team are using the tool pretty much daily in their training. So in this year, of course, being the Olympics, it's particularly important," he said.

Smith also says Protern.io is not just for alpine skiers. After all, the company started with cross-country skiing in mind, and the Swedish World Cup cross-country ski team is also now using it.

Smith has also been approached by big-wave surfers in Hawaii who are interested in trying it out.

"We built it to be quite broad in its ability to be able to take in a ton of data and then just let people sort of quickly focus and go, 'That's where we need to improve,'" Smith said.

In the meantime, he's looking forward to cheering on Canada's skiers at the Beijing Games this winter knowing that he may have played some small role in their success.

"Well, they're doing all the hard work. For us, we'll be cheering them on," he laughed.

"But yeah, it's pretty cool."

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