How You Can Ski Like An Olympian With Virtual Reality

This Virtual Ski Simulator Is Used To Train Olympians Like Mikaela Shiffrin

By Michelle Oliver

Imagine this... you're skiing down a giant mountain, you feel the snow beneath you, your skis cutting through it but, there is no wind in your face. That's because you're inside on a virtual ski simulator. This state of the art machine can be found inside of Vertical Drop Ski Shop in Clarkston.

"It allows us to replicate skiing exactly, " explains owner Bob Thomas. "We do a lot of training on it, we're finding other uses like rehab on it, and recreational skiers are using it for training or just an aerobic workout."

The Sky Tech Ski Simulator is one of only a few in the country. It features a long track with a set of skiis on it that glide horizontally across it as well as 3 projectors that display the hill you are skiing down. 

"I saw it at one of the shows and I thought, 'wow this would be great for the athletes around Michigan to have something special that the  US ski team is using," says Bob Thomas. Michigan skiers have always held a special place in Bob's heart.

"We have a long heritage in the ski business here," says Bob. "My dad, Don Thomas, started the ski shop back in the mid 50s and we've been going right on through supporting the racers, the US ski team, and just enjoying it."

This machine allows coaches and skiers to do things they otherwise could not on the hill. For one, the coach can stand right next to the athlete correcting mistakes and making adjustments on the spot, as opposed to when the skier makes their way down the hill. It also shows detailed breakdowns of the skiers movements and allows them to completely customize the track They can change the type of snow, adjust the bumps and ruts in the track and so much more. Hence why it is used by the Olympic Ski team to train athletes like Mikaela Shiffrin.

"If someone comes in and they don't really have the best technique, this machine actually helps fix that technique, because the machine won't work the same if you don't have good technique," explains a local skier and ski coach, Elli Thomas. 

By allowing skiers to continue skiing for as long as they want, they can perfect their turns, correct their form at any point, and burn a ton of calories in the process.

The ski slopes you can chose from vary, and include everything from the never ending training hill, to the Slalom at PyeongChang.

Many local ski teams are already using the technology to train with and plan to continue using it over the summer. 

If you would like to try it out, please contact Vertical Drop Ski Shop at 248-241-6509, or at their website here.

For Olympic coverage tune in to the Olympic Zone on Local 4.

 

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