With the whole world coming together against Coronavirus, many of our favourite snow sports companies have been finding new and inventive ways to help those on the front line. Take Salomon, who have recently announced that they are now working to create medical masks for protection against COVID-19. The Salomon Prototype Centre, a small team usually found collaborating with athletes on future products, has switched its focus to protective face masks, planning to deliver 90,000 masks to French healthcare facilities from April to June.
The ten team members, all of whom are specialists in textile production generally put their decades of combined experiences to work creating Salomon’s outdoor apparel and gear such as ski boot liners, jackets and backpacks. Now, from their base at Salomon’s Annecy Design Center (ADC) in the French Alps, they are creating one product only – medical masks.
“We like to say that, in a normal day, we might make a prototype shoe that helps Kilian Jornet go to the top of Everest in the morning and a sports bra for our running range in the afternoon,” says Jean-Noel Thevenoud, who manages the prototype lab.
“So this is a different project for us, but the team has been eager to help since the crisis started. When we got the call last week, everyone was ready to go.
“We’ll get back to making outdoor sports gear soon enough, but right now we are very happy to use the skills of the team to help in these times.”
The team’s shift in focus is a response to an appeal from the French government to the French textile industry.
With the industrial tools in place to help, a French company called Chamatex proposed a solution—washable and reusable textile multilayer masks. The masks are certified by the DGA (Direction Général de l’Armement) and will be intended primarily for administrations and industrialists in all sectors of the business community in the near future.
As requests for the masks increased, Salomon got a call from Gilles Reguillon, CEO of Chamatex, because of the relationship between the companies and because Salomon has the ability to produce prototypes of all kinds. Within five days of the initial request, the team at Salomon was at their work stations at the ADC making masks.
“Chamatex is a French company that has been an industrial partner of Salomon’s for more than five years,” says Guillaume Meyzenq, Salomon’s VP of Footwear. “We have been using their ‘MATRYX’ technology on a number of our premium footwear models. They share the same passion for innovation that we do and they have unique talents for making innovative textiles.”
Despite being eager to help, the Salomon prototype centre team was forced to stay at home like everyone else in France in recent weeks in order to comply with safety restrictions set in place by the government. Last week, however, Salomon got the call from Chamatex that their skills were needed.
Find out how UK skiers can do their bit in the fight against Coronavirus here.