Ed Pauls, NordicTrack inventor

Passing Date: 
Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ed Pauls, 80, inventor of the NordicTrack exercise machine and a member of the Rosemount ski boot engineering team, died Oct. 9 at his home in Montrose, Colo.

Edward Arthur Pauls was born on Aug. 28, 1931, in Sheboygan, Wis., and grew up on a dairy farm near Wausau. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in mechanical engineering. A enthusiastic skier, in 1959 he married Florence Melhuse, whom he met through a ski club. They settled in Excelsior, Minn., where Pauls worked in product design, notably for Rosemount. Eventually he held about a dozen patents on ski and exercise-related products, including a ski-equipped crutch for amputee skiers, a gauge for measuring ski camber stiffness, and the Rosemount heel binding. With Paul Petersen he developed the Rosemount toe binding, and with Don Check and Gary Ader designed and patented the powder-injection system used by Rosemount in its final “custom fit” versions.

Pauls’ most successful invention was the NordicTrack indoor cross-country ski trainer. He developed the idea while running on icy streets to train for a cross-country ski race. He was issued a patent in 1976 and at first sold machines to the U.S. Ski Team. Sales took off after Bill Koch endorsed it in 1980.

His son, Glenn Pauls of Telluride, estimates that the family sold half a million NordicTracks before selling the company, in 1986.


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