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Alpine skiers put form to the test

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Anchored to the floor and blasted by winds of over 100 kilometres per hour, members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team put their new equipment and their racing forms to the test on Saturday at the GM Aerodynamics Laboratory in Warren, Michigan.

Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a former racer with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, was one of the four Canadians to take part in the test. The others were Calgary’s John Kucera, Mont Tremblant’s Erik Guay, and Francois Bourque of New Richmond, Quebec.

The group, all members of the men’s speed team, is looking for any advantage they can get heading into an Olympic season. When racers are separated by tenths and hundredths of a second, even a small aerodynamic advantage can be the difference.

"If anyone knows the importance of one hundredth of a second it’s me," said Bourque, who finished third in the Garmisch World Cup super G last season. He missed out on the gold by just four one-hundredths of a second. "Being in the tunnel and facing winds up to 130 km/h allows me to fine tune technical elements of my tucking position, which are difficult to target on snow."

The previous week the women’s speed team took advantage of the facility, with Fernie’s Emily Brydon, Kelly Vanderbeek of Kitchener, Ontario, Allison Forsyth of Nanaimo and Brigitte Acton of St. Jovite, Quebec taking turns in the tunnel.

All the team equipment was tested, including helmets, goggles, gloves, and ski suits, and racers experimented with different forms that replicate the different positions used while skiing downhill and super G.

The speed team will make its World Cup debut at the end of November at Lake Louise Winterstart.

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