Star Trek Meets Sport

Virtual reality training is now a thing!

BY Paul Collins 08:14 Wednesday 7 February 2018, 8:14 7 Feb 2018

Members of Team Canada Olympic Men's Alpine skiing, Dustin Cook, left, Ben Thomsen have fun on a Samsung Virtual Reality ride in South Korea

The idea of holodecks and simulated worlds once seemed far fetched and confined to Star Trek.

Now ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea it's emerged US skiers have been using virtual reality to gain a competitive edge at this years games.

By the time the Olympics starts on Friday, many of the world's top skiers will have had only a handful of runs on the courses in the Taebaek mountains.

But not the US team.

They have spent the past year getting acquainted with the course, memorising the twists and turns and gate positions, all thanks to the use of 360-degree software and virtual reality headsets.

The organisers allowed the US team to film the course with the help of a 360-degree video camera, which they watch on Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear.

They captured a run on the slopes, allowing athletes to re-live the course over and over again, before they even set foot on the snow.

There's always a bit of snobbery in some quarters when new techniques are introduced, but those at the top of their game are always looking for the edge or the tiny improvement that could be the difference between a close run thing and a podium finish.

New technologies are all great and help hone skills but they only work if you have that vital ingredient - raw talent.

The VR headsets might have given the US team insights into the look of the course but they still have to cope with variables on the day like weather conditions and maybe their own fitness.

Having returned from Austria with the band of Today FM listeners skiing in the Alps, I thought that VR skiing training might be useful for anyone going next year to help get up and running on the slopes.

Then I remembered coping with Apres Ski fatigue, lack of sleep and local brew in the system. Beam me up Scotty!

 

 

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