20 December 2013
Laura is choosing Olympic patterns
In football , according to statistics, the home field advantage factor increases the chance of winning up to 67%, in basketball – up to 65.3 %, in volleyball — up to 58.4%. These figures, based on the results of the championships in these sports held in Germany, confirm the obvious fact that the team that is playing at home in most cases, quite naturally becomes the favourite. This applies not only to sports games .
Nearly four years ago at the Vancouver Olympics, Canadian athletes gathered a rich harvest of medals – 14 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze medals, and for the first time in the history of the Olympic movement they won the team event at the Games. A few people know that the success of the country of the Maple Leaf was not an accident, as it may seem at first glance. The Canadians were deliberately planning their success. More than 50 research projects were implemented within the program “Own The Podium”, that was launched in Canada a few years before Vancouver-2010. The vast majority of these projects were directly related to the use of so-called “home field advantage”.
The issue of using home field advantage has been widely studied by the specialists of the Russian Olympic Committee and applied in practice. In 2012, they developed a project to improve the sliding properties of skis and snowboards. The Russian Olympic Committee in cooperation with the Cross-Country Skiing Federation of Russia and the Russian Alpine Skiing and Snowboard Federation established scientific experimental groups engaged in the research held together with the Cross-country skis and Alpine skis and snowboards service centers on the Olympic track in Krasnaya Polyana. Both centers have been equipped with modern Wintersteiger machinery for applying special structure, also known as “Steinschlifft”.
At first sight, they are just grinding the skis in this studio, but if you look closely, you will see that the machine leaves a fine pattern. This little sports trick gives a sizeable advantage on the track. The technicians of the Russian Olympic Committee are coming up with dozens of sketches, just like artists. “The surfaces are coming into contact, plastic comes into contact with the snow, friction occurs, and pattern improves the glide”, – says the head of the Cross-country skis Service Center, the Honored Master of Sports, the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic champion in cross-country skiing on 50 km course Mikhail Ivanov.
The service center, that has resumed its work this week, is located at Laura Biathlon and Cross-Country Stadium, where in February the best skiers and biathletes of the world will compete for Olympic medals.
Test runs are also being conducted here. The objective is not just to make the skis run faster, but to pick a pattern for each weather. In the mountains the weather is changing very often — two, three times a day.
“The temperature of the snow, air temperature, snow and air humidity should be taken into account, as well as the type of snow: artificial, natural or mixed”, – says Mikhail Ivanov . We are conducting hundreds of runs per day. Test pilots overcome dozens of kilometers. The sensors detect the speed, quality of the glide and friction. The main goal is to use home field advantage. We have the opportunity to explore local climatic features, to practice and to put in a strong performance at the Olympic Games”, – said Mikhail Ivanov.
The researches, held by the ROC service centers are so great, that no single federation could afford them, but now each of those federations can use the results of this work. By means of experimental work a database was established. On the basis of this experimental data we can define which “Steinschliffts” are most suitable for the Sochi weather conditions, which differ greatly from all known sports venues in Europe. Excessive humidity, mineral content, etc. – all this affects the glide.
Such large-scale works haven’t ever been performed in our country in general, and especially in the area of the Krasnaya Polyana village. “We have collected a vast array of data and now it is necessary to use it effectively. The results of our experimental work will allow the specialists of the federations to choose and prepare the ski equipment for the Olympic Games more effectively”, – said Mikhail Ivanov.
Of course, each all-Russian sports federation has a team to prepare the skis that carries out similar work on applying structures, but it is episodic and short-time, as all of the above mentioned specialists are involved first and foremost in providing competitive activity of the athletes, members of the national teams in accordance with the calendar of competitions. The Russian Olympic Committee is ready to share not only its exclusive achievements, but also its “brains” with the federations. At the Olympic Games in Sochi , it intends to provide its experts to assist all interested federations.