“Utilized by the U.S. Ski Team”: Despite Unideal Conditions, New Technology Gives Skiing Fans the Best Experience

Published 05/17/2023, 2:49 PM EDT

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Technology is an ever-evolving being, developing faster than ever before. Each and every aspect of our lives has been permeated by technology, and the sports world has not been left untouched. The utility of technology is undeniable, but it is also a source of entertainment. Just like any other sport, skiing has also been transformed by technological advancement.

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Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is the name of the game these days. VR and AR have special applications, which range from healthcare to the fashion industry and anything and everything in between. When it comes to sports, Virtual Reality provides an immersive experience that is not limited by weather or other external conditions. And recently, a town in Wisconsin reaped the benefits.

Skiing and Snowboarding get a second wind in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin is a famous skiing and snowboarding destination. However, this past winter the area was nowhere close to appropriate weather for these leisure activities. The slopes might have closed early, but this particular town was able to keep them open through this novel method. Yes, we’re talking about virtual skiing and snowboarding.

via Imago

According to CBS 58, Pewaukee was able to keep its virtual slopes open, long after the actual slopes closed down, giving the residents a chance to keep enjoying the sport. ‘Urban Slopes’, started by Jared Masters, opened its virtual ski and snowboard slopes in 2021. Masters told CBS, “I just enjoy skiing.” His passion prompted him to find an alternative. The virtual slopes are run by simulators that project different skiing and snowboarding slopes. Kenneth Grogan, who is the Experience Manager at Urban Slopes, finds these simulators a perfect way to practice and unwind at the same time.

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According to Grogan, “You can hop on the machine and it’s just you and the run, and you can get your turns in, and kind of forget about the outside world while you’re here.” The virtual slopes provide Olympic-level simulation. Master’s revealed, “It’s a machine that was designed and utilized by the U.S. ski team, for their off-season training and also rehab, recovery too.” These kinds of simulators and virtual slopes are not new to the world of Olympic athletes.

Virtual Reality Training for Olympic athletes

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The year was 2017 when Laurenne Ross, the former World Cup alpine ski racer from the United States, felt her skiing career crumble when she got a severe injury in her knee after she fell. Come 2018, she was ready to represent the United States of America at the Olympics. It was Virtual Reality Training that made it possible. According to Troy Taylor, a sports scientist and high-performance director for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, “VR is a tool that is used regularly by the athletes, including those who have qualified for the Olympics.”

via Reuters

Taylor is the one who introduced VR into the world of skiing and snowboarding. STRIVR, a Stanford University spinout startup, was already making waves with VR in NFL. Taylor felt that snow sports would benefit from the same as well. He took a shot in the dark, and STRIVR liked his idea. So much so, in fact, they worked closely together for several years to develop a technology that could benefit Olympians, not only in training but in rehabilitation as well.

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And now, by the time we reached 2023, this technology has developed even more and trickled down to the masses, to help them enjoy skiing or snowboarding, even when the slopes don’t do them justice.

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Written by:

Apoorva Behl

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Apoorva Behl is a sports writer for EssentiallySports. With a range that would make Bruce Lee proud, Apoorva’s writing embodies the philosophy of "Be Like Water," flowing seamlessly between a diverse range of sports and sensitive angles. Her articles are known to resonate with her audience, earning her a common spot on the Editor’s Pick list.
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Edited by:

Anupama Ghosh

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