Local inventor combines trail maps with goggle wiper for best of both worlds
Refolding a trail map to its original size and dimensions is a challenge at the best of times, and just about impossible if you happen to be wearing mittens, and sitting on a chairlift in the middle of a snowstorm.
Throw in the pile of tissue you use to wipe your goggles and you can get an idea of the kind of conditions that gave inventor Shawn Cooper the idea for the Spanky some three-and-a-half years ago.
"I was on a chairlift and I was rushing to get everything back together so I could put it in my pocket, and I thought why isnt there a product that does all these things?" said Cooper.
"It turned into quite an adventure actually creating that product."
The Spanky is a square foot of a high-density lens cleaning material, with the trail map for Whistler Mountain printed on one side and Blackcomb Mountain on the other. The ink is fused to the material through a new sublimation process, creating an incredibly clear representation of the trail map.
Because the ink is fused to the material, there are no features on the surface of the cloth that could scratch your glasses or ski goggles.
When youre finished reading the trail map or using it to clean your goggles, you can stuff it right back in your pocket no folding required.
Cooper has made similar trail maps for resorts in Colorado and Jackson Hole in Wyoming, but has an exclusive agreement with Whistler-Blackcomb using the more advanced process that allowed Cooper to print on both sides of the material with such precision.
He went through 15 different prototypes until he perfected the Spanky.
"It was pretty exciting for me to finally come up with this, something that is printed on both sides that you can hold up to the sun and the colours wont come through. It took a while to get there, but Im really happy with it," said Cooper.
The Spanky is a product of Spanky Sport, and Cooper is the companys sole owner, operator, investor, employee, and sales team. He had a partner at one point, but they went their separate ways more than a year ago.
Although they have some appeal as a novelty item, Cooper says the people who will really appreciate the Spanky are ski and snowboard bums like himself.
"The reason I created this was because its something I needed for myself. When its windy or wet, you dont want to mess with folding your paper trail maps, and if youre out on the mountain a lot like I try to be youre going to need to clean your goggles from time to time. This is another tool for skiers and boarders to take out on the slopes with them," said Cooper.
Originally from Florida, Cooper discovered snowboarding at the age of 16. Soon afterwards he moved to Colorado and spent a few years there at different ski resorts, before moving to Wyoming and Jackson Hole. Three years ago he moved further north and west to live in Whistler.
Cooper has launched the Spanky with an order for 5,000 of the cloths, which can be found at Whistler-Blackcombs retail stores.