Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic hopefuls in freestyle skiing and snowboard will be among the participants at the Winter X-Games in Aspen, which get underway tomorrow.
"The ski team's use of VR falls into the "no brainer" category for use cases in virtual reality", said Jeremy Bailenson, Strivr cofounder and director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, in a statement.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes are using 360 videos and VR in multiple ways in competition, from inspections of the race course, helping athletes learn the lines they will race through, to helping athletes rehabilitate from injuries.
"This is the best-performed team that we've taken to an Olympic Games with a large number of athletes who have established that they are amongst the very best in their sports globally".
Bailenson said, "U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes should have a strategic advantage because they have been able to not just visualize the course, but practice it over and over again, going over decision points such as turns, and recognizing landmarks on the course". Josey stole the show at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix this past weekend in California, nabbing his first grand prix win ever in the final Olympic qualifying event. Strivr claims some athletes have improved improve reaction time by 20% after training with its tech.
Taylor said VR training has positive results, though the specifics are confidential. "That is a big part of competition, having the confidence to attack parts of the course where you can find time, so that's a clear benefit". For example, Meek says coaches often insert rain or fog into their athletes' VR experiences for an extra challenge.
Taylor is confident that while VR training can never replace training on the slopes, it will remain an important training tool for Team USA.
"We have many athletes doing really fantastic things, who are competitive on the world stage nearly every week of the season and the standard of their preparation just gets better". "Obviously there is nothing that can replace the real world experience, but VR is proving its worth in terms of allowing an athlete to see the course they will race on before they actually compete".