Determined athletes require demanding rigorous training routines. Unfortunately, seasonal weather doesn’t always go along with this determination. Many winter sports hinge on snowy conditions but in recent years, a novel application of plastic sheets has allowed skiers to stay focused on their goals, even in the sweltering summer sunshine.
Simplicity of Design in Plastic Sheets
Thousands of plastic sheets have been installed in popular landings and outruns across the world allowing athletes to diligently stick to their practices despite warm weather. The plastic sheets consist of rugged fiber bristles with the appearance of dry spaghetti in vibrant colors or overlapping colorful broom heads. Much like the application of shingles in roofing, these plastic sheets are installed in an overlapping fashion. Then water is either sprayed across or trickled down through the fibers of the plastic sheets using physics to reduce friction and thus create similar conditions to a snowy slope. These plastic tracks are carefully laid over the grass of the hill.
While some ski clubs install the plastic sheets on the same hills that will be covered in snow a few short months from now, others use hills specifically designated for summer practices. These permanent summer practice hills are often equipped with a textured porcelain track in the in-runs with the plastic sheets comprising the landing strip.
Athletes and training Olympians can achieve the same speed using the plastic sheets as they would on a snow covered slope in the middle of winter. While reaching a speed of 50mph within 3 seconds may seem hazardous without the security of soft snow, all of the necessary precautions are made to ensure that summer skiing is just as safe. Likewise, the plastic sheets allow athletes to achieve the same distances they would if they were practicing under snowy conditions.
Benefits of Year-Round Training
With the plastic sheets, athletes have the obvious benefit of year-round practice. While athletes have always found ways to train in the summer months, the plastic mats offer the most accurate recreation of the physics of a snow-covered slope.
Volunteers recently installed thousands of plastic sheets on the grassy hills of Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Flying Eagle Ski Club. The volunteers, who have been working on the project since last year, have thus far outfitted the 7, 15 and 30 meter jumps with plans to continue on through the 90 meter jump. Many of the area ski clubs already boast the plastic sheets but Flying Eagle’s coach Bill Dowling explained that the recent installations will now allow his athletes to practice through the summer as conveniently as possible. He hopes that the extra practice will give his team what they need to break through to the international ski circuit.
Summer Ski Cons
While tracks comprised of watered plastic sheets are innovative, skiers will still be challenged to overcome the unrelated obstacles of summer practices. Ski suits can be oppressive in the summer heat as they’re designed for use in frigid weather. Likewise, the heat mixed with the strenuous workout of skiing is sure to fatigue athletes quicker than had they been practicing in the winter months.
Inclement weather conditions may have been the bane of the rigid routines of focused athletes but modern advances are making it easier to adhere to regular practice. These days, it’s fairly common to find ski clubs outfitted with plastic sheets for summer practices so that training Olympians and athletes can stay in optimum form.