A New Speed Suit, Tested in a Wind Tunnel

Sorry for more ski racing news, but it's an Olympic year and we can't help ourselves. Spyder has announced a new, more aerodynamic speed suit, which will be worn by the U.S. and Canadian ski teams at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. If nothing else, read this to check out the nifty wind tunnel video.
New Spyder Race Suit

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.



Jamaican Ski Wear?

Spyder makes the uniform for Errol Kerr, sole member of the Jamaican ski team and Olympic ski-cross hopeful. Here's a look at his apparel.

As sexy as shiny new skis are, every skier knows boots are what really make a set-up work. And, while skis change for the better every season, in the boot world, some old technology is poised to give the newest designs a run for their money. Distinctly-shaped three piece boots are reappearing on skier’s feet in a re-incarnation of the concept of the once-popular Raichle Flexon. But this time, it looks like they might be here to stay, thanks to brands like Full Tilt and Dalbello. The simple three-piece design is the result of an ingenious application of NASA technology to ski equipment. Eric Giese, a former NASA worker living in Aspen in the late 1970s, took the same concept used to make articulating joints in space suits (see also: bendy straws) and used it to create a flexible, floating ski boot tongue. One of the major draws of the design is a smoother flex, which virtually eliminates shin-bang and jolting. As the tongue flexes, it is loaded with energy and springs back without losing contact with your leg. The position of the middle buckle securely locks your heel back in the pocket. Aftermarket tongues can be switched to change the flex in a few minutes, and less plastic in the design makes for a lighter boot overall.

Three-Piece Suits

Or, how Full Tilt and Dalbello, with a little help from Seth Morrison and NASA, are bringing the sexy back to three-piece ski boots.