Picabo Street was an Olympic and World Cup champion ski racer, so of course her sister-in-law calls for advice on teaching her kids to ski. That phone call led Street to connect with Launch Pad, a Utah company developing new systems for teaching skiing. Street publically endorsed the product at SIA in Denver on Saturday. "It's great not only for the beginning skier, but for the person teaching them," she says.
Launch Pad's Hookease ($60) works by attaching mounts to a student's ski tails and hooks to the teacher's pole tips. The hooks connect with the mounts to control speed and let the instructor (or parent) manipulate ski position, producing a wedge, glide, or edged turn. The Wedgease ($20) is a more flexible, durable version of the "noodle" commonly used in ski instruction.
For Street, the system is a huge leap forward for beginning skiers—and those teaching them. She knows from teaching her own four children to ski. "You have almost complete control over what they do," she says. "You can get the first-time skier to understand what it feels like to get their skis on edge and carve." It also helps ease the frustration and struggle that comes from close physical contact. "You can manhandle them without getting your paws on them." —Olivia Dwyer