ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ANSI Celebrates the 2006 Winter Olympic Games

New York, Feb 15, 2006

The origin of winter sports equipment dates back to 1000 BC when the first ice skates, fashioned from the bones and skins of reindeer, elks, and oxen, were donned to facilitate hunting across ice covered lakes. Precarious and unstable, these rudimentary skates were paired with poles to maintain balance. Winter sports, and the equipment used in these games, have seen great developments and diversification over time. Sports equipment today makes use of the most technologically advanced materials and designs to maximize speed, agility, and safety. Athletes depend on standards to ensure that sports equipment meets performance specifications and safety requirements.

In Olympic competition, where victory is contingent on high speed and dexterity, the performance and safety of sports gear and facilities can mean the difference between taking home the gold and returning empty-handed. The performance requirements for sports equipment are specific to each sport, taking into account the inherent risks involved and the form of the game. At the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, standards play a critical role, covering the equipment used in many events in which the athletes compete.

A 5,000 year old sport, the nature of alpine skiing requires that skis be lightweight and flexible yet structurally supportive enough to minimize fatigue-causing vibrations and resist deformation. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a number of standards covering alpine skiing equipment, ranging from boots and binding screws to the skis themselves. ISO 5355:2005 Alpine Ski Boots — Requirements and Test Methods, a standard designed to test the safety of ski-binding systems, specifies requirements and test methods for ski boots with alpine ski-binding systems attached at the toe and heel. The standard defines the proper release function of binding systems depending on the dimensions and design of a system’s interfaces.

Snowboarding, a sport involving the execution of high speed aerial tricks, was first introduced into the Olympics at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. ISO 15344:2005 Snowboard Step-In Bindings — Requirements and Test Methods covers the interlock mechanism system of step-in boots, helping snowboarders pull off stunts safely. The standard specifies requirements for step-in snowboard bindings that make use of mechanical interlocking mechanisms. Since the interlock mechanism of a system is specific to particular manufacturers, ISO 15344:2005 requires testing of each potential combination of boot and binding system.

ASTM International, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute, has developed standards for helmets and headgear that help protect athletes from serious injury. At the Torino Games, ice hockey athletes can rely on protective headgear tested according to ASTM F1045-04 Standard Performance Specification for Ice Hockey Helmets. The standard is designed to reduce the risk of head injury associated with this sport which involves fast speed and abrupt changes in direction. In addition to establishing head coverage requirements, ASTM F1045-04 provides specifications for testing the strength and elongation of the chinstrap, as well as the helmet’s shock absorption properties.

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