Behind the scenes: A passion for innovation
How does Madshus apply World Cup technology to every product level?
Meet Svein Ivar Moen, the head of the Madshus ski testing department.
“I was born curious. I like to challenge the established conventions, and I look for ways to apply new and cutting edge innovation to all of our product lines,” the accomplished test technician says.
Moen came to Madshus in 2016, after more than 20 years as a wax technician and ski tester. From 1998 until 2014, he was the head wax tech with the Norwegian National Biathlon Team. But he has been the personal wax tech and equipment manager for Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the world’s most winning Olympic winter athlete to date, since 1997. Moen says the king of biathlon is a great partner in innovation.
“I’ve known Ole Einar Bjørndalen since we were 12 years old. We were buddies as kids, we went to the same high school, and working with him is great. He is demanding and he is a perfectionist. He is always looking to optimize everything, down to the last detail. If there are 50 factors and he does 49 of them perfectly, then he wants to improve the last one. I have the same approach to skis,” Moen says.
Not all development is progress
“There is innovation and development is basically just change. But change doesn’t necessarily mean progress. You always have to ask: Why are we doing this? Is this truly progress, or are we just making a new thing? This is harsh, and you have to be willing to discard projects you’ve spent a lot of time on, but it’s the only way you actually progress,” Moen says.
Next, he explains, you always have to stay focused on the task.
“It’s important to consider: who are we making the skis for, and what are their needs,” he says.
The World Cup is a test lab
Moen explains that World Cup racers and recreational skiers have different needs and requirements. However, he points out, that doesn’t mean recreational skiers don’t need a top of the line product.
“At Madshus we use the World Cup as our test lab. Everything we bring to the World Cup and test at the very highest level is considered for a broad range of skiers. We use the same geometries, technologies and construction methods for our World Cup skis, our race performance series and our recreational skis, but we adjust the skis properties, such as flex and camber, to fit the different skiers’ needs. Again, it comes down to making sure we serve their needs,” Moen says.
What drives you to develop new skis and technology, year after year?
“I have always been curious, and the only thing I know to be true is that there is no set answer to anything, especially when you are working with snow and ice. Conditions are constantly changing and what worked yesterday can be worthless today, even if the temperature is the same and the snow is still white,” says Moen, explaining that this is exactly what triggers him.
“I love the challenge of working with a constantly moving target. So often, things are done a certain way because it’s always been done that way. There are so many myths and a tradition for doing things a certain way without challenging why,” he says.
Moen is different.
“I try to mix the basics and the established principles with new ideas. I keep track, measure and try to get objective answers. And I’m never content. I want to improve.”
What inspires you?
“In one word: Progress. Things can always get better, and I want to find out how. My favorite quote is from the legendary Norwegian soccer coach Nils Arne Eggen: When everyone’s content and in agreement, there is no progress.”