Wind tunnel can reveal the winning posture
When speed is the target, athletes will do whatever it takes to get an edge over the competition, even if that means sitting in a stationery bobsleigh while a fan generates gusts of wind that can reach 300 kilometres an hour.
The wind tunnel is the focus of an episode of The Tech Race, which explores the impact of the application of technology and science in sport and which also features the development of the year-round ski jump, the protection offered by a ski airbag and the creation of a smart snowboard.
For athletes across many sports, finding the most aerodynamic position is vital, and many athletes use the wind tunnels as part of their training. Artificial wind means extreme conditions are recreated in a controlled environment, making it possible to calculate data that cannot be obtained outdoors.
As wind is not visible, smoke is used to study the wind flow around the vehicle; and the athlete and the data will guide them to adapt their posture in order to be as aerodynamic as possible.
Johannes Lochner (Germany), who competed in the bobsleigh at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, spoke of the benefits, saying: “It helps us a lot because on the track we can test things in terms of aerodynamics, because outside there are too many changing conditions.”
The wind tunnel was also used by the German sailing team ahead of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, where it enabled each athlete to analyse individual elements which, when applied, could make all the difference in competition.