Forgive us for covering ski racing so much: It’s an Olympic year and we simply can’t help ourselves. Today’s big news? Spyder’s got a new, more slippery, more aerodynamic race suit that will be worn by the U.S. and Canadian ski teams at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. “The focus of Spyder’s research during the last few years has been about how we can make our speed suits more slippery against air,” says Phil Shettig, Spyder’s product director. “Our goal is to manipulate airflow properties to make all of our suits faster against the competition.”
They’ve tested the product in wind tunnels (check out the video below) and found the suits to reduce times by hundredths of a second, which is nothing in real time, of course, but is actually a lot in ski racer time. Without boring you too much with technical details, here’s how Spyder redesigned the suit. (1) They refined the texture of the suit’s knit, giving it less friction against wind. (2) Designers replaced the pads with ones that have 40 percent less volume and are therefore more aerodynamic due to their lower profile. (3) The protective pads in the slalom and GS suits are now in a separate underlayer to reduce the seams on the outside of the fabric.
“Without a doubt we will have the best technical advantage at the Vancouver Games,” says Phil McNichol, former U.S. Ski Team Men’s Alpine Coach.