How can you see

Winter Games in China

A ski slope in the National Alpine Skiing Center is being prepared.

Image: Michael Kappeler, dpa

A ski slope is being prepared at the National Alpine Ski Center.

Picture: Michael Kappeler, dpa

Although Denise Herrmann has never been to Zhangjiakou before, a lot will look familiar to the Saxon skier.

When the biathlete straps on her training skis for the first time in China on Wednesday, she will finally be running the courses in real life, which she previously only got to know virtually thanks to 3D glasses.

"It is extreme what is now possible with technology", The former world champion said: "It’s super cool for us to be able to see the course profile – and not just on a picture."

DSV films Olympic tracks in the run-up to the Games

How it works? A delegation of ski technicians from the German Ski Association was on the Olympic tracks in Beijing at the end of last year, filming them and collecting lots of video footage. This was then played on 3D glasses and made available to the athletes. This became necessary at all because the Olympic test competitions of biathletes, cross-country skiers, Nordic combined athletes or ski jumpers were canceled due to the Corona pandemic in 2021. None of the athletes had seen the new facilities themselves before arriving these days. So only technology helped.

"I have even jumped from the ski jump with these glasses", said Herrmann, who of course focused on the trails around the ski hunters’ stadium. "One then got such a small preliminary impression", said the 32-year-old: "You can even look left, right a little bit in the distance, how the landscape is."

Virtual Olympic preparation: Fit for Beijing with 3D glasses

Of course, this tool only serves to get a first feeling. And while the biathletes have scheduled only three days for preparation, the German cross-country skiers have already arrived last weekend. "The tracks in Beijing are hard as nails, as we all know. You have to prepare yourself very well accordingly", said cross-country skier Jonas Dobler: "You can only take a close look at it when you run anyway. One week of viewing is enough."

Treadmills with distance profiles

Another option for Nordic skiers is to use special treadmills on which the course profile is programmed. This also helps to get a feel for the severity of the trails. "We have already run the course profile on the treadmill in Oberhof", said Herrmann: "But seeing visually how the track looks with the glasses has brought us almost more." Not everyone makes use of it. "I’m not going to look at the glasses", said biathlete Benedikt Doll, who needs no more than the planned three days of preparation: "That’s enough for me."

While the luge and bobsleigh stars have already had the opportunity to get to know the Yanqing ice track for themselves in recent months, the alpine skiers are rather relaxed about their unfamiliarity with the slopes. So far, the men have only been allowed to ski on the training track. The real Olympic downhill will only start on Thursday at the first official training, two more units will follow. However, they have also received pictures and videos, which, of course, could not yet contain the later course setting when the gold medal is at stake on Sunday.

"You can’t let yourself go crazy there", said Romed Baumann and warned against too much actionism. Three training sessions "already give you a good feeling", said the 36-year-old. For them, it’s part of the job anyway to always adapt to new conditions. "Not only skiing fast, but also learning runs. In slalom it is often even more complicated than in downhill", said Baumann.

And the special preparation also had its disadvantages. Here’s how biathlete Johannes Kuhn complained of mild nausea after his virtual run. "And I was also slightly dizzy", said Herrmann. You could really feel how "the body wanted to participate," said Herrmann, when you drive into a dip "although you are standing on solid ground".

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