Monday, May 31, 2010

The Thermablade Story

Tory Weber worked the midnight shift monitoring the boiler room in the basement of a posh hotel in Banff National Park. It was a boring job for a college student in his early 20s, but the pay, and the dollar-a-day room and meals, made it hard for him to quit, especially with a new silver Mazda RX7 parked outside.

So Weber put his feet up on the desk, his hands behind his head, and thought, "God, you'd just about have to kill me for me to change my life."

Seconds later, a chunk of concrete fell from the ceiling, which was being remodeled. It severed the hotel's main gas line, just 20 feet from Weber's desk. Natural gas hissed out of the punctured 1-inch steel line near two flame-shooting boilers.

Firefighters said it was pure luck the hotel didn't explode. For Weber, that second chance was a catalyst to follow a dream hatched in childhood.

Inspired by Spud Gun

A few years before the hotel incident, Weber had an idea that stemmed from another accident. Painful, but not nearly as dangerous. It was a cold February day at his parents' house in Calgary. He stepped into his shoes, which had been sitting on a heat vent, and walked out onto the icy stairs to get the evening newspaper. His warm shoes melted the ice and sent him reeling onto his rear end.

The same thermodynamics class that eventually landed him the boiler room job made Weber ponder the effect his heated shoes had on the ice. Like most men in Canada, Weber had grown up with a stick and a puck and a number of idols in the NHL. As Weber nursed his aching back, the idea struck him: What would happen if hockey players could skate on heated blades?

More at: The Thermablade Story