Thialf ventilation system did create a very light tailwind, researchers say


The ventilation system at the Thialf ice stadium in Heerenveen does create a tailwind in skaters’ backs but it is so slight as to have negligible impact, researchers at Delft University of Technology said on Friday.

The university was asked to look into the ventilation system at the rink following comments made by professional speed skaters and coaches after a number of records were set at this year’s world and European speed championships.

In some circles, there was even talk that the system may have been changed to encourage new records at the rink.

The 600 vents around the rink are used to create ‘a curtain of air’ between the stands and the ice rink to prevent moisture from affecting the ice. Normally positioned to blow the air straight up, their direction has been changed ‘to plug holes in the air curtain’.

Speed skating great Sven Kramer was among those to comment, saying he had noticed a ‘stronger than average wind from the vents.’

The tailwind observed by the researchers is just 500 metres per hour, which is an extremely low value, aerodynamics expert Alexander Spoelstra said. It is also within official limits. ‘However, in top level sport, tiny values can have a lot of impact,’ Spoelstra said.

The researchers have recommended the stadium bosses carry out more research.

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