July 13th 2021

New testing method for ski racers

Optimal preparation of ski racers for the 2022 Winter Olympics with new fitness reading developed by MCI | Testing improved through image processing | New method is used at the Olympic Center Tyrol for junior and elite athletes

New fitness reading for ski racers in Tyrol.
New fitness reading for ski racers in Tyrol. © Frederik Krassnitzer

Professional ski racers have to undergo regular fitness tests to check their performance. Two of these ten tests involve knee bends, which were previously tested for validity using an elaborate process that relied on the subjective review of the coaches.

In order to objectively check whether both tests are valid squats, researchers at the Department of Medical, Health & Sports Technology at MCI have developed a new method that simplifies these strength tests for athletes.

This testing procedure is now being used successfully with junior and elite ski athletes at the Olympic Center Tyrol. Christian Raschner, head of the Olympic Center Tyrol, is enthusiastic: "This innovative procedure is more stable, more comfortable and thus speeds up the conventional test set-up from 15 minutes to just one minute. This allowed us to add one more test to the test battery of Austrian skiers." Particularly with having the 2022 Winter Olympics in China in mind, the time saved in testing offers important added value for the Austrian ski team.

Image processing for precise results

During testing, in which the MCI is involved in, a first test checks whether the performed squat, which is performed with high additional weight, is valid. In a second test, athletes jump on a spring scale and then complete a certain number of valid squats, followed by another jump on the spring scale.

The squat measurement process looks at the femur angle (angle between the femur/thighbone and the floor), which must always be below a certain threshold for a valid squat. "With the process developed by MCI, the femur angle is extracted from the live stream in real time via the usual methods (marker tracking) of image processing and can provide the athlete with objective and immediate feedback on the femur angle," explains MCI lecturer Bernhard Hollaus, who is leading the research project.

International award for innovative methodology

Researchers from the MCI's Medical, Health & Sports Technology bachelor's degree program developed this approach together with the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Innsbruck back in 2020 and have been successfully implementing it at the Olympic Center Tyrol since the beginning of 2021. The outstanding partnership between the two universities has already been recognized in other projects by the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA) with the Higher Degree Research Student Prize.

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