Science on the Slopes
In the town of Windischgarsten, Austria, there exists an integrated training / learning environment for the development of young winter sport athletes in a school environment, known as the Ski Mittelschule Windischgarsten (SMS).
The site includes a specially designed ski treadmill with a carpet overlay, allowing for athletes to train year-round on the ski carpet simulator and provides an opportunity for the research team at the University of Salzburg to study the complex kinematics of Alpine skiing in a hyper-controlled scenario.
One specific study was undertaken as part of the Digital Motion Project, a joint project between the working groups of Training & Movement Science, Biomechanics, and Sports Psychology all being part of the Department of Sport and Exercise Science of the University of Salzburg, Austria.
The group of researchers from the University of Salzburg and the École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL) took to the “slopes” of the ski carpet at the Ski Mittelschule Windischgarsten, Austria. The firm Salzburg Research was an additional collaborating scientific partner in this project. The purposes of this study were to:
- Validate all previously reported methodologies to detect turns during alpine skiing.
- Validate a wearable system to estimate kinematic and kinetic paramaters during alpine skiing.
- Develop a model for detecting fatigue during Alpine Skiing.
While the main scope of this project is to develop wearable technologies for sport, these technologies must be both valid and repeatable. In order to meet this requirement, the Qualisys system plays a massively important role.
13 Qualisys cameras were placed around the ski carpet using already available constructions for suitable stability (mirror-screen, ceiling) as well as tripods surrounding the infinite ski slope.
In addition to the Qualisys motion capture system, the group measured expired gasses, muscle activity, muscle oxygen saturation, plantar pressure, and psycho-physiological data.
Participants completed short trials in different skiing styles and turn sizes for the validation study, then completed up to 44 minute fatiguing trials.
These results will not only aid in the development and improvement of training practices for the SMS athletes, but also feed the development and validation of algorithms to estimate motion quality paramaters during alpine skiing, such as segment or ski orientation, estimated “g-force”, center of mass trajectory, load quantification, fatigue detection, and other parameters.
The Qualisys system was absolutely a focal point of this study. The ability to set-up and adapt the system to a measurement environment as complex as the ski carpet was invaluable.Cory Snyder