August and September is crunch time for the R&D test crew. Join them on a trip to the ski tunnel.
The dawn of the indoor ski tunnels in the mid-2000s significantly eased the workday for the Madshus research and development department, test crew and service techs.
From August until there is consistent natural snow outside, which usually isn’t until mid-October at best, the Torsby ski tunnel a short drive across the border into Sweden is a part of the their test lab and office.
“With the ski tunnel in Torsby only a few hours away, we can manufacture skis early in the week and be on the snow testing by midweek,” says Peter Blom, who has been part of the Madshus test crew for a decade.
Convenient and reliable = more and better test data
While nothing beats real winter, Blom explains that the tunnels offer some advantages to traditional testing on the glaciers.
For starters, the tunnel is close to the factory, while the glaciers in Central Europe require extended travel, a lot more logistics, and no easy opportunity to come back to the factory, adjust, and retest.
“From August until October, we are in the tunnel almost every week. That means we test a lot more than we would if we had to travel far to test. The more we test, the more we know and the better the skis get. Because the tunnel offers such reliable and consistent conditions, we test a lot, and accumulate a huge amount of testing data that is easily comparable, both day to day and year to year, as well as model to model and case by case,” he explains.
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Eliminates interfering factors
Also, the snow conditions in the tunnel are more like winter than the summer snow conditions on the glaciers. Additionally, there is no wind, no sudden changes in temperatures or snow consistency in the tunnel, which contributes to make the test data more accurate and reliable.
“The glaciers have very inconsistent temperatures and conditions. Some days it can be a blizzard and bitter cold, the next day you have baking sun and slush. In the tunnel we know exactly what the snow and the temperature will be like,” Blom says, noting that the past few years, the tunnels have become very good at controlling the climate and the snow quality.
“They dropped the temperature slightly, and they no longer groom too often. If you groom the tunnel snow too much, it the snow loses its structure and becomes sugary and “dead.” But this is not that much of an issue anymore,” he says.
Access to the skiers
With near perfect conditions in the tunnel, Blom and his crew frequently run into the Madshus World Cup skiers, their national teams and the World Cup wax techs. This allows for easy interaction, exchange of experiences and improves the testing with real-time, on-site feedback.
See you in the tunnel?