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Getting the edge on the competition – Olympic style

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I returned from Vancouver a few weeks ago and unlike the NHL players, my Olympic hangover is finally gone. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend attending the Olympic Games. It is rare and exciting to be able to see so many different sports played at such a high level in a central location over a short time span.

The athletes train for years, sometimes their whole lives, to perform their best and hopefully win medals for their countries. But it’s not just the athletes who work hard – their support teams crank alongside them, helping the Olympians and their equipment reach their peak performance.

The US Nordic Ski Team has had the technical support of Zach Caldwell and his ski grinding machine. For the past three seasons Zach has lived by Whistler, the site of the 2010 Alpine and Nordic Olympic events, and tested how slight differences in the nearly invisible angled patterns ground into the underside of skis interact with the various types of snow found at Whistler to impact the speed of skiers. Whistler has some unusual snow types, and simply having someone who could grind their skis the day before a race for actual snow conditions was an advantage for the US team…especially when backed by Zach’s three years of extensive testing and research into how to make the skiers go even faster.

And the results are in… The US Team won its first Nordic Olympic Medals — Gold and Silver in the Nordic Combined Large Hill, Silver in the Nordic Combined Normal Hill and Silver in the 4 x 5 Team Relay. Congratulations Zach and Team USA on a job well done!

You can learn more about Zach, his $75,000 grinding machine and his process in this NPR story and FasterSkier article.

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