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CeramTec’s ALOSLIDE inrun track, featuring a high-tech irrigation and cooling system, will help athletes at Sochi’s Winter Games jump higher and further. Credit: YouTube


Ever wonder what’s beneath the blades of those high-flying athletes who willingly hurl themselves down icy inclines for our entertainment and Olympic glory?

For the ski jumpers who will compete at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the answer is simple: ceramics.

Both the standard and large jumps at Sochi’s “RusSki Gorki” Jumping Center are equipped with an ALOSLIDE ceramic inrun track developed by CeramTec (Germany).

The company developed the system, which is based on “ceramic nubs” and features a unique irrigation and cooling system, to ensure that ski jump events like those at Sochi can be held year-round—regardless of weather conditions—under nearly identical conditions. According to the company video above, the ceramic nubs, when moistened with water, “have at least equivalent sliding characteristics to those of snow.” The company claims the skiers can post longer jumps from the high-tech track, although they are mum on the composition of the ceramic nubs.

According to a CeramTec press release, the installation of the large jump took close to three weeks amidst extreme weather conditions, heavy snowfall, and temps well below freezing. And because the infrastructure for the jump wasn’t yet complete, “technicians had to “manually” transport some 2,200 liters of water” for the jump’s cooling station. (Very uncool.)

If you’re not headed to Sochi and want to see the track in person, then pop on over to the German Sports and Olympics Museum in Cologne, which has received its own full-scale ALOSLIDE component as part of a permanent exhibit. The museum’s exhibits chronicle 3,000 years of sports history.