Alpine ski racers can reach speeds that would make most of us sick to our stomachs.
Now, thanks to software developed by a Yukon-based company, ski coaches can track how fast their racers are going at every perilous turn, twist and tuck on the course — and where they could go faster.
All that in real time, from a gadget weighing the equivalent of one-and-a-half AA batteries.
The technology combines sport-training software called Protern.io and a tiny GPS unit developed by Switzerland-based company Advanced Sports Instruments.
Although the product has already been tested over several months, it makes its first major debut at the FIS Ski World Cup in Lake Louise, Alta., this weekend, attached to the bibs of the Swiss national ski team.
“It’s pretty exciting times, that’s for sure,” said Alastair Smith, CEO of Whitehorse-based Proskida, the company behind Protern.io.
In a race where one one-hundredth of a second can make or break a podium finish, Smith said Protern.io will help coaches pinpoint where efficiencies can be gained on the course.
“What our data can do is pull out times at any point on the course, which is totally new and that’s something they don’t have access to now.”
Smith said speed data is something else his technology offers for the first time.
“How fast was the skier going in this section and how does that compare to the other skiers? How efficient are they being in their turns?
“Those are all the things that are required to basically make these top athletes that much better.”
This is not Proskida’s first venture into the world of elite sport.
It developed an instrumented Nordic ski grip that gathers data on strength and technique, allowing analysis of things such as poling technique and muscle strength. Proskida has so far sold that technology to seven national ski teams including Canada.
Although the Swiss national ski team is the first subscriber to Protern.io, Smith said other teams have already expressed interest.
He said the data can be used in different ways.
“Everyone kind of has their own secret sauce just to try to make … their athletes that much faster.”
Smith is in Lake Louise for his software’s biggest test to-date. The men’s World Cup competition runs until Dec. 1, and the women’s event is Dec. 3 to 8.