Antoine Ravisé: Sports Geek

Athlete/engineer Antoine Ravisé finds his calling developing next-generation sports gear

4 min read
Photo: Antoine Doyen
Photo: Antoine Doyen

Antoine Ravisé opens a secret door wedged between fire gear and bike tires at the back of a sports store in Villeneuve d'Ascq, a university town in the northern corner of France. A white industrial door shuts behind him as he waves an entry card to unlock the revolving glass door that separates him from a busy laboratory. Ravisé speed walks through the high-ceilinged workspace, hailing colleagues along the way. He arrives at a walled-off room, laces up a pair of running shoes, steps onto a stack of wood, and puts on a blindfold. "It's a surprise for my body," he calls out, just before stepping off the stack and landing on a pressure sensor embedded in the floor. He clearly delights in the work, running over to a computer after each step to save the data.

Ravisé is an R&D engineer for Oxylane, the product-development branch of the international sports chain Decathlon. Over the past four years, he has spent long hours performing tests—often on himself—in the name of better sports gear. This latest experiment is devised to show how he might determine whether shoes cushion a runner's footfalls better than bare feet. He's also shivered for 5 straight hours in a climate chamber to evaluate thermal apparel. He's taken to the Alps and the Pyrenees to check out GPS devices and tent lights. Closer to home, a 600-meter-long stretch of cement outside his office is a favorite place to assess running and cycling gear.

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