Wow, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi have been amazing and make me even more impatient to go to skiing in early April. I’ll especially remember three of the sporting events. First, Bart Swings from Belgium finished in fourth place in the 5,000-meter speed skating just behind a fully Dutch podium. Maybe aerodynamic simulation could have improved his performance and delivered him a place on the platform. There was also some great ski jumping where the skiers literally flew, and I found a flapping ski to perfectly illustrate fluid–structure interaction. I don’t know if this flapping is good or bad for performance. What do you think? Finally, I’ll remember the breathtaking downhill race.
Although I didn’t spend four years training but remained comfortably at home, I was proud to be a little part of these games through our many clients directly engaged in developing products and venues for sport. One client addressed the challenging ventilation in the speed skating oval in the Maly ice arena, where the ice needed to remain at -7 C while the spectators enjoyed a comfortable 16 C. I followed with great interest the race of the Italian bobsleigh designed by Ferrari using ANSYS tools.
But I was especially thrilled to watch the downhill skiers using Rossignol skis.The company’s R&D Department uses structural analysis simulation to design skis and bindings, and this technology is particularly important for the equipment used in the Sochi Games.
Although I was impressed by the performance achieved, I’m convinced engineering simulation is largely underexploited in winter sports. In the same way simulation has contributed to swimming and cycling, it can revolutionize some winter sports if used more systematically and extensively. The thorough investigation of external aerodynamics on specific equipment could save a fraction of a second or more (often the difference between bronze and gold). Helmet modeling for high-speed impact could improve athletes’ safety. HVAC in ice arenas could make the games even greener. Modeling the complex interaction between ski, snow, air and athletes will progressively improve equipment to provide better and safer performance.
All this will take time. So let’s start working toward the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The design race is starting now. I’ll be glad to side with anyone engaging in simulation for the next Winter Olympic Games.
Here are some great resources for you! Click the images to read the articles.