Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Analyzed By The Wind

One of the most vital fundamentals of sport is the science that goes into producing an Olympic athlete. Teams of experts must all work in tandem to coordinate the best path to success. For those sports where incredibly high rates of speed, position in the air and friction are involved, such as alpine skiing, skeleton/luge, speed skating, ski jumping and swimming, part of the technological scientific advances include the use of wind tunnel testing.  A wind tunnel is a research tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects. Normally reserved for the automobile industry, wind tunnels are a research tool whose information can find a millisecond advantage – the difference between gold and everyone else.

Erik Guay (CAN)
 Photo credit: AUDI AG
In previous decades, Canadian athletes used the NRC Institute for Aerospace Research in Ottawa to test their aerodynamic technique and equipment. Just a few weeks ago, the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, were involved in testing at one of the most modern wind tunnels in the world.  The Audi Wind Tunnel Centre, based at Audi’s European headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, hosted the Canadian team for the first time ever.  Intelligence gathered during these sessions allows engineers to measure real time drag co-efficient data for such things as the new speed suits that the team will sport this season. Other important essentials of the sport that were analyzed were the aerodynamic qualities of racing positions, goggles, helmets, gloves, boots and skis. This data in turn assists the coaches in making important corrections and providing valuable feedback to the athletes.

Such world-leading research services will provide the Canadian team many advantages as they start the 2011-2012 International Ski Federation (FIS) season, which opens this weekend in Soelden, Austria.

For more information on the science of sport, please visit SIRC.

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