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The way technology is used at the Sochi Winter Olympics could have a bearing on the way snowboarding is watched, performed and even judged. Check out some of the technologies impacting the sport at this year’s Games – and learn how they could affect the scoreboards – below.
Preparing for Sochi
When it comes to training and nutrition, top snowboarders are looking to harness the latest technologies and embrace expert advice in order to improve their game.
One of the most exciting training technologies available to aspiring Sochi Olympians was the SkyTechSport Sochi Simulator. This piece of kit uses GPS to create a digital environment that’s a replica of the Sochi mountain course, so snowboarders could experience and learn the route without getting on a plane to Russia.
Virtual reality is improved with the provision of 3D glasses, and the snowboard simulator mimics real conditions with strong vibrations and even G-force effects.
Those who have experienced practice runs with this piece of kit could have a huge advantage when it comes to the real thing: snowboarders don’t get much opportunity to conduct trials on the Olympic slopes, and knowing the route inside out is a huge pro.
High-tech boards and uniforms can give competitors a considerable edge. For example, Kessler is the most successful board brand in Olympic and X Games history, largely thanks to its commitment to technological innovation. This year doesn’t bring much in the way of futuristic boards, but some cool performance wear is set to make an appearance.
The patchwork attire made by Burton for Team USA has captured attention with its unique design, but will its technical features make as much of an impact? The proprietary waterproof and breathable laminate materials, developed with the US Army Natick Research, Development & Engineering Center, could generate envy in the snowboarding community.
Adidas has created a Team GB wardrobe that caters to athletes’ needs on and off the slopes. One great garment is the Heat Pant, which maintains temperatures to prevent muscular tension and rapid cooling in-between warm-ups and performances.
Under Armour, which co-developed the new Team USA speed skating suits that are causing quite a stir, has used its expertise in performance clothing to design high-tech gear for Canada’s Winter Olympians. A top feature is ColdGear Infrared Technology, which uses a specialised pattern to insulate body heat, keeping the sportsperson warm without adding bulk.
The quality of snow at the course will have a considerable impact on the achievements of snowboarders – what weather can we expect from Sochi?
Lack of snow in the sub-tropical region last February resulted in the cancellation of the parallel slalom and slopestyle FIS Snowboard World Cup events, so it’s no wonder concerns have been raised about the climate.
However, organisers are insistent that Mother Nature will deliver, and are prepared even if she doesn’t: isothermal blankets have been keeping vaults of last year’s snow frozen as backup, and snow cannons are on hand to create supplies of artificial snow.
Ebuyer’s technology expert, Daniel Young said: “The technology to create snow can be very complex as you need to keep the snow at the perfect temperature throughout the whole process from manufacture to delivery. Keeping the snow cold when it’s on the ground will be a tough task as Sochi has a similar climate to the coastal Mediterranean, but with a higher winter humidity.”
Approximately €15 million worth of snow grooming machinery from PRINOTH will also be used to keep courses at competition standards, so it looks as though snowboarders can expect fantastic conditions. Intelligent use of technology by the organising committee and those in the snowboarding world could mean we see some of the most impressive performances ever at Sochi 2014.