Canada's speed skiers have an annual tradition of testing their equipment and form in wind tunnels, and thanks to the recent signing of Audi as a sponsor that tradition will continue in the future. Last week three athletes headed to Audi's facility in Germany, including reigning downhill world champion Erik Guay, Whistler's Robbie Dixon and Invermere's Ben Thomsen.
"It's gone really well," said Guay, who is now Canada's winningest male skier with 15 podiums to his credit. "This tunnel has real time drag co-efficient data so you can see how fast you are very quickly. It's a good chance to try new equipment and work on positions."
One of the pieces of new equipment the team is trying this year is a speed suit.
"We have been able to do really accurate equipment testing," said Paul Kristofic, the men's head coach for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. "We've gathered comparable data - comparing which suits and combination of padding work the best, for example. The racers test multiple variations - jump positions, transitions from tuck to standing and so on. For the first time at a new facility, this is awesome."
Dixon has been a member of the national team for over five years but this was his first opportunity to train in a wind tunnel.
"The facility here is unbelievable," he said. "We've got all the information on a projector and I've definitely seen some things that will help me."
The World Cup season gets underway in late October, while the speed season will once again begin with the Winterstart World Cup at Lake Louise.