Canadian alpine ski team guilty of performance enhancing technology

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on November 27, 2009 12:23 pm

For most of us, GPS means a knowledgeable sounding Englishmen giving directions on the Garmin.  For the Canadian alpine ski team, GPS means a technological advantage heading towards the Winter Olympics.

It’s called the STEALTH system.  It’s supposed to be an acronym for Sensor for the Training of Elite Athletes, but that only gives you STEA, not as cool sounding as stealth, I guess. 

Racers wear a 2-pound unit around their waste.  As skiers fly down the mountain a stream of data is analyzed by computers to help determine where speed is lost and gained.

The system is supposed to help in two ways.  The first is in choosing the fastest line.  I’m a bit skeptical about that one.  There may be faster lines down the mountain, but can you ski them?

The other use sounds much more plausible.  The units are used in ski testing both equipment and wax.  Traditionally, technicians and racers have had limited info in ski testing.  Basically, just video and time.

Max Gartner, Alpine Canada’s chief athletics officer told the Canadian Press, “”In the old days, we did ski testing and the only information we got was the final time.  During the test track of 16 seconds, you would find out one ski was 16.01 and the other ski was 16.24 That was the only information you got. With the GPS, we have much more detailed information.”

Canada has spent $117 million on Own the Podium, a five-year plan to help Canadian athletes win more medals on their home turf.  The STEALTH program was categorized Top Secret until this past week when it was unveiled.

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