Wednesday February 11th, 2015

While the pros raced Beaver Creek at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships last week, SkyTechSport opened up a virtual version of the course in its lifelike simulator, the same style of simulator the U.S. Ski Team uses to train.

For the Colorado event, the Hollywood-based SkyTechSport team recreated Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey men’s Downhill and women’s Raptor courses. The mountains were GPS-scanned in their entirety, giving fans a foot-by-foot detail of every turn, jump, side-hill and traverse as it is on the actual course. You can even see the trees emerge from the snow.

While the fans spent the week hitting the SkyTechSport system to tackle Beaver Creek’s wicked courses, Alex Golunov, SkyTechSport project manager, told Edge this simulator is about more than GPS-centric visuals.

This simulator packs some real G-force.

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Developed in Munich, Germany, the company has refined the project for the last six years to make it easier for national teams to train on famous ski resorts. Along with the highly detailed course runs, four electric motors with a total of up to 10 horsepower recreate the G-force necessary to simulate a true skiing experience, Golunov says. The makeup allows for an acceleration of up to 2.5G when professional athletes use the simulator (the specs get ratcheted down a bit for more novice users.)

Want different ski conditions? Dial it up. The simulator replicates icy, hard-packed or spring snow by incorporating “powerful drives” with intense vibrations and compression effects of up to 150 kilograms in load value.

Courtesy of SkyTechSport

Dozens of motion-capture sensing units built into the skis read all of the skier’s movements and then recreate the sensations based on where the skier is on the course. “This allows SkyTechSport to join two realities together: the virtual image of the slope that is being rendered in 3D, live, and the physical reality of the skier/snowboarder on the machine,” Golunov says.

With over a dozen courses rendered into virtual reality slopes—some actual courses, such as Beaver Creek’s and some created by SkyTechSport—the company now has hundreds of simulations peppered across the world.

Originally designed as a training tool—pros did practice on the simulator for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships—the simulators have turned into a popular entertainment draw. Even if Beaver Creek’s Raptor course straps some extra G-force onto your run.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb

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