Audi AG Sets Trend at Ski World Championships with Newly Created Starting Gate

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February 3, 2003

The jury agreed: “Compact, courageous and unmistakeable in its form”. The “2002 National German Design Prize” went to the Audi A2. Audi Design was successful once again: Already for the third time the most important German design prize was presented to Audi. “Designed by Audi” is a mark of quality setting new standards. For the Alpine Ski World Championships, Audi Design forges a new design path: This time however, no sporty all-terrain vehicle concept study will be presented like the Audi Pikes Peak quattro at the Detroit Motor show, but newly created starting and exit gates for the Alpine ski circus.

Audi is presenting sponsor of the Alpine Ski World Championships in St. Moritz and furthermore, since the beginning of this season, title sponsor of the Alpine Ski World Cup. The Audi logo accompanies ski fans worldwide through the winter. The idea to recreate the starting and exits gates arose very early during the partnership negotiations with the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the World Championships Organisation Committee. Audi possessed the necessary expertise in the form of the repeatedly distinguished Audi Design.

This excursion was out of the ordinary, but not unusual for the Audi designers. For the World Championships the tasks was: Creation of the staring and exit gates.

“I could approach the subject free of restraint. Definite was: The dynamic form and pure flowing lines that characterise Audi Design should again be incorporated in the newly designed start and exit gates”, said Audi designer Sabine Waltle.

At the beginning, despite computer and CAD programmes, a clean sheet of paper existed that craved for good ideas. The first rough sketches were poles apart: One draft worked with cubes offset in one another, a second draft was spherical shaped, dynamically tapered towards the rear a third. All the ideas shared a common aim to create a starting gate in its literal meaning. “Before, it had been a fa├žade, a wall that was covered with sponsors logos, with a tent like construction behind. I wanted to replace these things with a `real’ house”, explained the Audi designer. Ultimately she projected the interior as the exterior. “Audi sends the skiers down the catwalk”, said Sabine Waltle. The process of development was a process of exchange. The FIS demanded that sufficient was done for the World Championship Organisers and Sponsors. “We created the best possible compromise”, said the Audi designer looking proudly at the result.

The newly designed Audi starting gate reflects the form of the aluminium frame construction of the Audi Space Frame as it is used, for example, in the new A8, the Audi fleets flagship. The starting gate’s aluminium corset is panelled completely with aluminium sheets; the exterior walls are covered with printed but transparent foil allowing a unique view of the athletes inside during their warming up procedures. The floor area of the Audi starting gate is measures approximately four by six metres; the highest point at the front is 3.80 metres it then slopes down to almost 3 metres at the rear. The aluminium panels are painted in the classic Audi colours of red and light silver. Almost one third of all Audi customers choose light silver for the colour of their cars.

The Audi starting gate had to be light enough to be transported by helicopter, but at the same time sufficiently robust to withstand the extreme Alpine weather conditions. Therefore, during the design phase the opportunity to use aluminium and adopt the Audi Space Frame system arose: light and stable – Audi has implemented this in the production of their vehicles with the aluminium frame architecture of the Audi Space Frame. Audi resorted to this expertise with aluminium, which the Audi engineers have built up over almost twenty years of development and research, during the recreation of the Audi starting gate.

To complement the stating gate, Audi Design also designed a new exit gate for the Alpine Ski World Championships in St. Moritz. The exit gate’s form was based on that exuded by the starting gate. It made a more compact impression with its floor area of nine square metres and a height of almost four metres. “The exit gate, through which the skiers leave the finishing area after their race, should resemble a triumphal arch”, said Sabine Waltle. The exit gate is, like the starting gate, presented in the Audi colours of red and light silver. The design philosophy at the Alpine Ski World Championships is therefore uniform.

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