From l to r: Sierra Designs’ Vincent Mares, Columbia Apparel’s Bryhn Ireson and Black Diamond Packs designer Nathan Kuder.For every backpack that summits the Southern Appalachians, there’s a really smart gear designer working long hours in a dark office to make sure it has all the bells and whistles it needs to get the job done. Ditto technical apparel and tents. BRO pulled a few of the outdoor industry’s leading designers out of the their cubicles and let them speak about gear design. Here’s what they had to say.Vincent Mares, design manager for Sierra Designs packs, tents, and sleeping bags.The goal whenever you create a new pack or tent or sleeping bag, is to answer a question in a better way. Are we solving problems for the users, not just creating another option in a different color?Failure is part of the process. We go through a bunch of design concepts to create an idea for a pack, then we build the first prototype. But you never get it 100 percent perfect. There are lots of growing pains along the way. It’s more of an evolution than people probably realize. You have to fail to succeed. You have to learn from it.The future for tent design is the same as the past: lighter, lighter, and lighter. In tents, every ounce counts. There are some new fabrics coming out that are amazing. It will give tent designers some interesting options. We should be able to build something extremely light without sacrificing performance.I live in the future. I have this crystal ball, thinking two years in the future, thinking about economics, color trends, innovation. It’s part science, part voodoo. These are the things they don’t teach you in design school.Bryhn Ireson, product line manager for Columbia’s technical apparel lineI look at the market, examining a competitor’s set: the price, features, colors, how waterproof it is…then I approach a specific piece from our perspective. For us, it’s about the end use, providing something comfortable and usable. But a product begins when I write a brief on an idea I’d like to see built, then I let the designers go at it.Typically, it takes 18 months to get a piece of apparel from the brief to market. It takes that long to nail the process. Longer if there’s an innovative technology involved, like Omni Freeze Ice. We knew about the technology and spent a lot of time testing with our innovations department before we started to design specific pieces. It took a matter of years. Right now, we’re looking at developing products for spring 2013.Basically, we’re predicting the future. It’s tough with color trends. Our design department can be pretty fashion forward. Will we be ready for these color schemes in 2013? How will we price items for 2013? There’s some educated guess work, but it pays to be the leaders too, so you’re driving the market, not responding to it.We have an extensive beta project that spans the world with hundreds of real life users chipping in to test gear. They don’t pull any punches. We have guides as well spending 200 days a year giving us so much feedback and direction, from color to technical traits. We take those comments from the Beta project, then apply them to the product before we go to market and use them for future development.Nathan Kuder, category director for packs for Black Diamond With any piece of gear, the goal is to make that gear disappear from your experience. The concept behind our Active Frame Technology in our packs’ suspension systems, was to take away some of the restrictions that traditional packs have had on the backpacking experience. People have just assumed that a certain amount of discomfort and limited mobility come with large packs.I’m a firm believer that active suspensions will become as common as internal frames are now. Right now, 90 percent of the packs on the market have static suspension. But eventually, you’ll see those become the price point options, and active suspension be the more common option. It’s simply too good to not be adopted by more backpack manufacturers.I’d say 80 percent of the stuff on the store floor has an element of gimmickry. The end user is my yardstick. If the user doesn’t get what they paid for, the product won’t stick around. At Black Diamond, we’re always asking, “Is this real, or is this bullshit?”
Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 dreams fell at the final hurdle as Michal Duris’ extra-time winner sent Slovakia to next summer’s finals with a 2-1 win at Windsor Park.Slovakia had led for most of normal time with the opening goal handed to them by George Saville, whose poor backwards header was pounced upon by Juraj Kucka to fire home from the edge of the box (17).- Advertisement – Image:A total of 1,060 fans were allowed inside Windsor Park for the play-off final Subs: Thompson (6), Whyte (6), Lafferty (7), Boyce (6), Flanagan (5), Ferguson (5).Away Team: Rodak (5), Pekarik (7), Satka (7), Skriniar (6), Hubocan (6), Lobotka (5), Rusnak (7), Kucka (7), Hamsik (6), Mak (6), Duda (5).Subs: Duris (7), Hrosovsky (6), Mraz (6), Gregus (5), Gyomber (n/a).- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Eight minutes into the second period, Stanislav Lobotka became a victim of the hosts’ newfound threat, and from McGinn’s interception, Conor Washington turned in the box before shooting straight at Rodak when he should have levelled.But real chances remained at a premium after that near-miss, including the hosts’ equaliser when it finally came, three minutes from time. McNair found space on the right flank and after reaching the byline pulled the ball to a long queue of players in the six-yard box. However, it took only first man Skriniar to clumsily divert the ball past his own goalkeeper and bring them level.Into extra-time, the game went with Northern Ireland finally enjoying the bit between their teeth, and influential substitute Kyle Lafferty coming close to capping his superb cameo with a goal when glancing McNair’s volley goalwards, but straight at Rodak. How Northern Ireland went so close, yet so farNorthern Ireland have not started games well under Ian Baraclough – they were yet to score the first goal in a game under him – but in front of just over 1,000 home fans, they began at a good tempo.Unable to turn their territory into opportunities, however, Slovakia grew in confidence and increasingly began to cause problems on the flanks. But their goal would owe little to quality, with a mistimed backwards header from Saville pounced on by Kucka, who strode forward to beat Peacock-Farrell. Team newsIan Baraclough’s only change from Northern Ireland’s win over Bosnia-Herzegovina saw the injured Corry Evans replaced by Conor Washington.New Slovakia Stefan Tarkovic made six changes to his side, including a return for Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar. Josh Magennis should have tested Rodak with a free header from Paddy McNair’s corner minutes later but misjudged his effort. Only moments before the break, they threatened again, with Stuart Dallas and Niall McGinn both missing the target with wayward efforts in quick succession.As has become increasingly familiar, the only similarity between Northern Ireland’s first and second-half performances was the numbers on their backs – and in harrying and pressing their visitors from the restart, they looked a different prospect altogether. A much-improved second-half performance from the hosts was finally rewarded three minutes from full-time when Paddy McNair’s cross was bundled past his own goalkeeper by Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar, which took the tie to extra-time.But some more poor defending allowed a loose ball to find Duris with 10 minutes of the extra half-hour remaining, and after Bailey Peacock-Farrell allowed his shot to beat him at his near post, Northern Ireland could find no way back as their qualification hopes were extinguished in the play-off final. At the other end, with the experienced Craig Cathcart forced off through injury, Tom Flanagan’s decision to step into midfield left the hosts’ backline exposed. Kucka’s ball towards Duris deflected off Evans’ unwitting backside and into the Slovakia forward, who kept his composure to beat Peacock-Farrell’s weak dive at his near post.Evans nearly made amends with one of the final kicks of the game when Jordan Thompson’s glorious cross found him unmarked six yards out. But just as Rodak kept out his poor header with ease, so too did Slovakia see off any hopes of another late fightback to qualify for only their second European Championships finals.Match factsNorthern Ireland have been defeated in extra-time for the first time in their history.Slovakia have won for the first time in 2020, drawing twice and losing three times since beating Azerbaijan last November.Northern Ireland have lost three consecutive home matches for the first time since September 2011-February 2012.Northern Ireland have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 matches, at home to Netherlands last November.Juraj Kucka’s opener was his third goal of Slovakia’s EURO 2020 qualification campaign, the joint-most of any player for the side along with Marek Hamsik and Robert Bozenik. It was his first goal for the national side since October 2019 when he netted against Wales.What’s next?Northern Ireland have a Nations League double header against Austria and Romania coming up before the international break concludes, with both live on Sky Sports.Their visit to Austria is live on Sky Sports Football this Sunday from 7.30pm; Kick-off at 7.45pm. Then see them host Romania in their final group game live on Sky Sports Mix next Wednesday from 7.30pm; Kick-off at 7.45pm. Player ratingsNorthern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell (5), Dallas (6), Cathcart (7), Evans (6), Lewis (6), Davis (6), Saville (5), McNair (7), McGinn (6), Magennis (5), Washington (5). – Advertisement – Man of the match: Juraj Kucka Image:Juraj Kucka put Slovakia ahead at Windsor Park before half-time
While the Cleveland Indians won’t get to see Ohtani pitch in this three-game series, they could see him hit as soon as Tuesday, although Scioscia wouldn’t commit to that either.Cleveland manager Terry Francona got a good look at Ohtani in 2014, when he managed a team of major leaguers on an offseason trip to Japan. Ohtani, who was 20 at the time, pitched a perfect inning in Game 1 of the series.Could Francona envision Ohtani pitching in MLB by age 23?“I think you could have envisioned him pitching (in MLB) the next week,” he said. “He looked good. He looked real good.”HEANEY UPDATEAndrew Heaney is scheduled to throw 80-90 pitches in a minor league game on Friday, Scioscia said. Heaney, who is out with elbow inflammation, said he felt good a day after a 69-pitch outing in an intrasquad game in Arizona.If Heaney comes through his minor league outing without any problems, he would be able to start by the time the Angels need a sixth starter, which would be during the series starting April 12 in Kansas City.UP NEXTAngels (Garrett Richards, 0-0, 7.20) vs. Indians (Josh Tomlin, 10-9, 4.98 in 2017), 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM).Staff writer J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this story. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error ANAHEIM — A day after Shohei Ohtani’s major league pitching debut, the Angels still weren’t saying when, or if, he will pitch on this homestand.The Angels could have Ohtani pitch Saturday on five days rest or Sunday on six days rest.Ohtani has pitched on at least six days rest every time except once, following a 31-pitch outing in the spring, so it stands to reason that he’s more likely to pitch on Sunday. He threw 92 pitches against the Oakland A’s on Sunday.Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels on Wednesday would announce their rotation for this weekend’s series against Oakland.