It is extremely important for Simone Origone, the world record holder for speed skiing at 155.9 mph, to absolutely minimize drag. When he needs to test how cleanly he cuts through the air, he goes to the wind tunnel at automotive design house Pininfarina.
At high speeds, Origone has to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. Not only must his suit, his helmet, his poles and his boots have low aerodynamic resistance on their own, but they must all work together to create a clean shape. That means Origone has to tailor the whole position of his body, especially his arms and hands.
Particularly useful to the winner of 17 world titles since 2004 is a display that shows in real time how much drag he creates at wind speeds of nearly 70 miles an hour, expressed in kilograms. With this information, he can find the best position to minimize drag. Origone double checks his position by using streams of smoke to visualize the flow of air over his shoulders, back and helmet.
Origone as well as bicyclists and other skiers all share the same need to cut drag as any car, and wind tunnel testing has become an extremely important part of their training in high-speed competition.
That said, it's really freakin' weird to see 'em just standing there in a wind tunnel, isn't it?
Photo Credit: Pininfarina SpA