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Discover the Teched-out Gear of PyeongChang 2018

A guide to the goods propelling high-performance athletes, from clap skates to Ailsa Craig granite curling stones.

Speed skate

The Long-track Speed Skate

Clap skates, named for the sound they make after each stride, are attached to the blade via a spring-loaded hinge, letting the heel lift off for greater push power through the toe.

Speed skate stats

Heritage moment: how clap skates changed the sport

1981
The modern hinged skate is born as a thesis project by Dutch biomechanics PhD candidate Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau.

1994-1995
Eleven clap-happy skaters from the Netherlands test them out in competition, improving their times by an average of 4%.

1996
Claps are officially greenlit for competition, prompting outrage among some athletes who deem them cyborgian abominations.

1998
In Nagano, athletes wearing claps break records in 9 out of 10 events. They become the new gold standard.


The curling stone

The Curling Stone

Curling stone stats

Know your stones

Blue Hone
Used in the running band, the surface that slides along the ice, fine-grained blue hone is water resistant so moisture can’t get in, freeze and cause pitting. It’s also known as the hardest granite in the world.

Common Green
More abundant than its blue brethren and virtually impossible to splinter, common green, also from Ailsa Craig, is used to make the crash-proof body of the stone.


The hockey goalie mask

The Hockey Goalie Mask

Sweatband
37.5 Technology, a fabric woven with odour- and moisture-evaporating volcanic sand, coconut shell fragments and activated charcoal, is meant to keep the body at its ideal temperature: 37.5ºC.

Outer shell
Fibreglass and 12 K carbon, commonly used in bike frames, form the ultra-hard shell of Bauer’s Profile 950X goalie mask.

Impact zones
The chin and forehead are lined with XRD, a breathable urethane foam that “freezes” or firms up to form a protective barrier when rattled by a slapshot.


The luge

The Luge

“The magic of the luge is in the steels. Sleds are unstable, with only 10 centimetres of the metal touching the ice at a time, while you’re hitting four or five Gs of pressure. That’s more than astronauts experience at space shuttle takeoff, so those edges have to be perfectly slick and smooth.”
- Chris Wightman, Olympian and president of the Ontario Luge Association

Luge stats

Bridges
Connect the fibreglass pod to the runners.

Runners
Fibreglass frame which cradles the athlete’s calves, so he can apply pressure left or right to manoeuvre through twisty tracks at up to 145 km/h.

Steels
Sharp alloy blades that skim the ice.


The halfpipe board

The Halfpipe Board

Wax blended right into the base, like a built-in wax job, makes for a speedy running surface.

Snowboard stats


The skeleton helmet

The Skeleton Helmet

Cassie Hawrysh, Sochi alternate and head coach of skeleton at the Whistler Sliding Centre, on her racing helmet.

Artwork
I worked with a Jasper, Alberta, artist named Jason Bartziokas on the design. The crow is associated with luck and positive change, the maple leaves are all about pride and passion for Canada and the skull symbolizes an indifference to danger. Skeleton racers sign no-fault-of-death liability releases before every competition – I wanted to own that fear of death.

Minimal design
It’s rounder, lighter and sleeker than helmets for other sports, with very little padding on the inside, so we can maintain the lowest profile while keeping our neck and shoulders in a neutral position.

Window
The visor is made of a shatterproof Lexan and it doesn’t lift. Why would you want it to when your face is that close to the ice? It’s very large, so I can see as much of the track as possible while I’m on my stomach.

Wear and tear
The wear on the chin comes from the helmet scraping ice. If your head weighs 10 pounds, multiply that by the force of gravity pressing against it, which is about 5Gs mid-race, and your head weighs 50 pounds. It’s very difficult to raise it.


The Slalom Ski

The Slalom Ski

Slalom racers ride their edges hard, flipping from side to side at breakneck speeds, so they “tune” them before each race, almost like sharpening a skate, to help carve the hard-packed snow.

Ski stats


230 Estimated number of canadian athletes flying Air Canada to PyeongChang this month (And if one’s on your flight, you’ll hear a special Olympians-on-board announcement before takeoff).

57 Estimated number of canadian Paralympians flying Air Canada to PyeongChang next month.

60–75 Estimated percentage of Canadian athletes expected to fly out of Vancouver, Western Canada’s gateway to South Korea.

500 Estimated number of team canada coaches and support staff flying Air Canada to PyeongChang (Support staff to athlete ratio = approx. 2:1).

2 Number of Air Canada athlete send-off parties thrown at YYZ and YVR prior to the opening ceremonies on February 9.

Tags

BRITISH COLUMBIA     CANADA     SKI DESTINATIONS     SKIING    

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