NordicTrack inventor Ed Pauls dies at 80
Ed Pauls, inventor of the NordicTrack indoor ski machine in the 1970s, died from complications with Alzheimer's disease on October 9. A Wisconsin native and long-time Minnesota resident, Pauls passed away at his home in Montrose, Colorado.
He was 80 and still skiing until last year, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A celebration of Pauls' life was held at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on November 6.
Working full-time and trying to train on short winter days for the annual Victoria Jonathan Chaska cross-country ski race led Pauls to invent the NordicTrack, family members said.
Pauls invented the device, utilizing a patented flywheel, in the basement of his Victoria, Minnesota home. The NordicTrack became popular among exercise enthusiasts, not just skiers. The machine worked particularly well for Pauls' daughter, Terri, who at one point was the ninth ranked female cross-country skier in the country.
The device was billed as "The world's best aerobic exerciser" in ads that ran in ski magazines as well as general interest publications.
The company employed 400 people in Chaska when the family business was sold to CML Group in 1986. According to a 1995 Associated Press article, sales grew from $20 million in sales in 1987 to $456 million in 1994. However, the CML Group filed for bankruptcy in 1998, hundreds of local employees lost their jobs and the Chaska facility closed. The NordicTrack brand is now owned by Icon Health & Fitness.
That same year, Ed and Florence Pauls moved out west where they continued skiing, canoeing, sailing, scuba diving, snowmobiling, dirt biking and piloting, according to the Chanhassen Villager.
Pauls is also credited with inventing the Rosemount ski boot and binding system as a mechanical engineer at Rosemount Engineering. On his own, he created the Flipski outrigger for use by skiers with disabilities. He and his wife taught adaptive skiing at Welch Village near Red Wing, the Chanhassen newspaper reported.
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