Canadian men’s speed team hits the wind tunnelIn a unique collaboration between science and sport, members of Canada’s Men’s Alpine Ski team (CAST) took part in wind tunnel testing this past weekend. As part of their training to bring home gold this winter, four of Canada’s male athletes were subjected to the same vigorous aerodynamics testing used by North America’s leading automaker, General Motors.
The sophisticated training session was held in the state-of-the-art wind tunnel at the GM Aerodynamics Laboratory in Warren, Michigan, where automotive engineers develop the aerodynamic specifications for new GM cars and trucks.
‘GM is proud to provide our technical expertise, vehicles and world-class facilities to drive the newest generation of elite Canadian skiers to be the best’ said Don Johnson, general director of sales, service and marketing, GM of Canada. ‘We hope the learning from this training session will propel Canada’s women’s team to greater success on the World Cup circuit this year.’
Coaches and athletes use the wind tunnel to experiment with various race positions and test equipment such as new downhill suits, gloves, helmets, and goggles against wind speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour.
‘The Wind Tunnel is an opportunity for us to train in an environment where we can control variables ‘ said Manuel Osborne-Paradis, member of the Men’s Alpine Ski Team and bronze medalist in the 2004/05 Nor-Am Cup standings in downhill. ‘In my second year participating in the GM Wind Tunnel Lab my strategy was to utilize the aerodynamics to determine which gloves will be the fastest.’
For this training, Osborne-Paradis, from Invermere, BC., was accompanied by John Kucera of Calgary, AB, Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, QC and Francois Bourque of New Richmond, QC .
‘If anyone knows the importance of one hundredth of a second, it’s me, ‘ said Francois Bourque who finished 3rd in the Garmisch World Cup super-G last season, missing out on gold by only 4 hundredths of a second. ‘ Being in the tunnel and facing winds up to 130km/h allows me to fine tune technical elements of my tucking position which are difficult to target on snow’.
Men’s World Cup speed coach Paul Kristofic, who has been coaching with the Canadian team since 1996, was on site to guide the athletes through various racing positions.
‘Sponsors, like GM, are critical to the success of our athletes’ said Ken Read, President of Alpine Canada Alpin. ‘GM brings much more to the table than a traditional sponsor might. The technical expertise we leverage is difficult to find anywhere else; and they bring not only that expertise, but also a sincere passion for the sport.’
Upon conclusion of their training at GM’s Aerodynamic Lab, the four men and their coach, Paul Kristofic, are headed to Europe for on-snow, pre-season training until they return home for the first World Cup speed events of the season at the Lake Louise World Cup on December 26 and 27th.
The GM Aerodynamic Laboratory was opened in 1980 and has been in constant use for testing a wide variety of vehicles and automotive designs. GM has been wind tunnel testing since the early 1950s.