Great Britain’s Paralympic hopes boosted by Coventry University research innovation

Wednesday 02 March 2022

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The new sit-skis that Great Britain’s athletes will use at the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games harness the power of cutting-edge research and design input from Coventry University.

The new sit skis, which have been tested extensively by Great Britain's leading Para Nordic athletes, are the result of an advanced engineering innovation process led by Williams Advanced Engineering’s in-house Design Team, GB Snowsport’s Sport Sciences department and a multi-disciplinary research team from Coventry University. The sit skis have also had further technological and engineering input from BAE Systems and Formaplex.

The National Transport Design Centre and the Centre for Sports, Exercise and Life Sciences welcomed the athletes to the university in April 2019 to help tailor each sit-ski to the individual athlete’s technique.

The athlete’s bodies were scanned and measured, and their existing sit-ski rigs were also analysed using scanning equipment. This was accompanied by a biomechanics analysis of the athletes and their rigs. This technical analysis gave the researchers a real understanding of the technical aspects of the athletes’ performance.

Using cutting edge pressure mapping technology, the university researchers measured variations in pressure experienced by the athletes when using their sit-skis. By identifying high and low-pressure areas of contact, revised designs were proposed that would optimise the fit between the athlete and their bespoke rig.

Dr Paul Herriotts, Professor of Transport Design

These improved bespoke rigs enable the athletes to adopt individual postures that allow maximal and sustained force to be exerted, and will support Great Britain’s quest for Paralympic success at the Games and across the 2021/22 winter season.

As a university we were delighted that a team of experts from across the university’s research centres were able to work together to help support Williams Advanced Engineering and the GB Snowsport athletes in the preparations for the forthcoming Paralympic Winter Games.

Dr Samuel Oxford, Associate Professor and Project Lead for Coventry University.

Find out more about the National Transport Design Centre and the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences.