On Sat Oct 11, 2005 approximately thirty of the finest US pole vaulters and coaches gathered in Champaign, Illinois for the 1st Gill pole vault symposium. The guests were treated to a facilities tour followed by the results of 6 years of research and development work at the Gill factory.
First, Jan Johnson Gill pole vaulting equipment consultant and national PV Safety Chair, presented a Best Flex review. He explained how the company analyzed its two existing pole systems (Pacer and Sky Pole) in the late 90's, and developed the current user friendly and highly reliable, Best Flex system.
Next, Dave Hodge owner of Gill sports and former 18'4 vaulter, presented an overview of the companies 2 year FX research and development project. This project resulted in poles which store and release energy in a more efficient and reliable way.
Then The Gill vaulting pole production crew consisting of, Ralph Paquin, Kenny Hursey, and Bob Prideaux, led the group through the pole production area. Together they have over 100 years of
vaulting pole production experience dating back to the earliest days of Pacer and Sky Pole. They demonstrated each phase of the pole manufacturing process and answered many questions along the way.
Finally, Jeff Watry, Gill vaulting pole products engineer, led a tour of the pole testing and development facilities. His session included explanations and demonstrations of data collection techniques and interpretation. This phase of the symposium was perhaps the most entertaining, and informative of them all.