Fighting in the Wind for Hundredths of a Second
This weekend the alpine skiers will open their season in Levi (Finland). Following the cancellation of the traditional season opener in Sölden (Austria) due to weather conditions the venue in the north of Finland promises to provide a perfect stage for the start to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup to which Audi has by now been giving its name for as many as the past five years: roughly 20,000 enthusiastic spectators are expected to line Levi Black, the slope on which in addition to the women men will be competing in the slalom discipline for the first time.
When the alpine skiers from all over the world start to the new season the athletes from the teams sponsored by Audi may have a crucial advantage: during the long preparation over the summer months they not only worked on their fitness and techniques but got an extra dose of honing themselves and their material for the upcoming season at the Audi wind tunnel centre.
The testing programme in the ultra-modern centre in Ingolstadt is extensive. Where Audi normally develops its production vehicles and racing cars for the 24-Hour race at Le Mans or the DTM, the athletes are given the opportunity to work extensively and with professional coaching assistance. The conditions are ideal: the centre, which was officially opened in 1999, simulates wind speeds of roughly 300 kph with its 2.6-megawatt fan. Downhill racers and Super-G specialists can thus analyse and correct the most minute details of their material or body posture an important aspect in a sport where fractions of a second decide victory or defeat.
Were delighted about this very helpful and important support during our preparation, said Werner Margreiter, federal mens coach with the German Skiing Association (DSV). The hours in the wind tunnel give us the opportunity to take our time to observe and correct details one probably wouldnt even notice on the slope. The athletes spend only a short time standing in the wind before the acquired data is analysed and improvements are proposed. An aspect making the experience a comfortable one for the athletes: despite the fans enormous power, the Audi wind tunnel is considered one of the quietest of its kind.
Since the 2002/2003 season, Audi has been giving its name to the World Cup, and for more than 20 years, Audi has been supported the German Skiing Association (DSV) including its national teams. But the DSV is not the only organisation banking on support by the know-how from Ingolstadt: via the importers, Audi is also the partner of the alpine national teams from Sweden, Finland, France, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. This season, the list of partnerships has been expanded by Italy, another nation with a successful alpine skiing history. The ties to Audi are evident not only during practice and on the slope: athletes, coaches and officials drive Audi models equipped with the equally sporty and safe quattro drive.
The new Audi FIS Ski World Cup season encompasses more than 70 races. The finale will be staged at Lenzerheide (Switzerland) in March.