Canadian skiers test aerodynamics in GM wind tunnel


Canadian skiers test aerodynamics in GM wind tunnelIn a unique collaboration between science and sport, members of Canada’s Women’s Alpine Ski team (CAST) took part in wind tunnel testing today. As part of their training to bring home gold this winter, Canada’s top five female 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.

‘In a sport where a hundredth of a second can differentiate between first and tenth place, any advantage helps’ said Emily Brydon, member of the Women’s Alpine Ski Team and bronze medalist in the combined event at the 2005 World Cup in San Sicario (ITA). ‘Training in the GM wind tunnel enables our coaches to easily pinpoint and correct flaws in our body position that would be difficult to do during in a regular run. This innovative approach should lead to faster times and improved performances this year.’

For this training, Brydon, from Fernie, BC., was accompanied by Kelly Vanderbeek of Kitchener, Ont., Allison Forsyth of Nanaimo, B.C., and Brigitte Acton of St Jovite, Que.. Rob Boyd, who is entering his second season coaching the women’s speed team and who had a prolific career as a member of the men’s speed team, 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 five women and their coach caught a flight headed to Chile. There, they will be joining the men’s Canadian Alpine Ski Team for an on-snow camp ending in mid September.

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.

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