No snow? NO PROBLEM! Wet Suit? Check. Wheels? Check. Virtual Reality Headset?… Check?!
With less than 200 days to go until the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea, athletes from Lake Placid to Latvia have a lot of training ahead of them before the global spotlight is flicked on. The perseverance and perfection highlighted on TV for those short few weeks are being honed now, thanks in part to the innovative methods devised by coaches, trainers, and equipment designers.
As anyone that has tried Virtual Reality can attest, there is simply no other technology that can immerse you into a specific situation, allowing you to simulate an activity, like this VR can.
In some ways the lack of natural snow or ice actually makes for safer, more efficient training. Whereas alpine skiers would spend much of their on-snow training sessions riding the chairlift, for example, a skiing simulator allows them to cut straight to the actual training run. Essentially a lateral treadmill, it mimics the forces skiers contend with while hurtling down mountains – and can be used in tandem with virtual-reality technology that replicates the sensory environment of a ski race. A huge bonus: there’s no danger of crashing.
“What we’re trying to do is use virtual reality to expand the time that the athletes can spend in their field of play,” says Luke Bodensteiner, executive vice president, athletics at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) in Park City, Utah.