Whitehouse Station, NJ
In PyeongChang, South Korea this month, competitors representing 89 countries will be competing for Olympic gold. For many skiers, realizing this ultimate goal is due in no small part to countless hours of practice and conditioning. Helping athletes from America, Canada, and many other countries in these efforts is the roller ski company Jenex (Milford, NH), which relies on Minalex miniature aluminum extrusions for the main chassis of their training equipment.
Jenex founder Len Johnson's first contact with Minalex dates back to when he and Windsor Hunter founded Teradyne Connection Systems, a Minalex customer in the 1980s. An accomplished ski racer, Johnson was working with a company in Sweden in 1987 when he was approached by a group of Swedish skiing coaches about a study by Dr. Artur Forsberg that indicated the roller ski equipment being used at the time did not effectively replicate the same conditions as skiing on snow. They asked if he could develop a better product. So, while still at Teradyne, Johnson ordered a die for shafts from Minalex. For the next two years — and with the help of the extrusions from Minalex — he perfected the product and patented a device to make the roller skis feel more like skiing on snow.
With positive results from top international coaches and World Cup competitors who tested his roller skis, Johnson retired from Teradyne in 1989 and started Jenex. For seven Winter Olympiads, Jenex training equipment featuring Minalex aluminum extrusions have been used by cross-country, biathlon, and Nordic Combined competitors who have won numerous medals.
Miniature aluminum extrusions are an ideal solution for use as the main chassis of a roller ski. The architecture of the Jenex V2 roller ski rail's profile is a clear indication of the aluminum extrusion's value and performance attributes. It is designed to virtually eliminate torque and twisting — two unwanted characteristics in roller skis. The hollow profile features a web in the center that adds strength without unwanted mass. This lighter, more stable construction helps make the roller ski turn more easily and consistently. All roller skis with pneumatic tires use Minalex aluminum rails exclusively.
Another key advantage of using aluminum is the ability to produce a finished shape — a result of the extruding process. This is not possible with materials like steel, which is almost three times heavier and requires considerable time to properly machine the material to produce a final part. Wood is another material sometimes used in making a roller ski chassis; however, the strongest wood materials, like oak and hickory, require their rail dimensions to be much thicker than comparable aluminum extrusions in order to withstand the load and achieve similar performance. This can make them significantly heavier unless they are reinforced with carbon, a process that is both labor-intensive and adds considerably to the cost.
Minalex, in contrast, supplies Jenex with rails in 24” and 30” lengths that require little if any trimming or finishing. Like the roller skis that Jenex manufactures, all Minalex miniature aluminum extrusions are also made in the U.S.
Outperforming the competition is the driving force for Olympic competitors training with Jenex roller skis who require their training equipment to be dependable and durable.
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