Ski star sharpens her skiing with technology from Chalmers

Power meters integrated in a ski-pole handle from Chalmers will contribute to skier Lina Korsgren's third victory in Vasaloppet. "The pole and the power measurement can help me improve one more step," she says in a news feature on SVT Sport on 16 June.
Picture of Johan and Lina.The new handle has sensors that measure the power while poling and can be mounted on any pole. Lina Korsgren has now started to use the invention in her training:
"The handle is a little thicker than a regular handle, but I just see it as an advantage because then you do not have to hold the pole as hard. It is positive with less strain on the elbows, but otherwise it feels just as usual", she tells SVT Sport.

The data from the handles is sent to software for analysis down to fractions of a single poling. It makes it possible to adjust the really small details of the ride. Lina Korsgren's trainer, former elite cyclist Mattias Reck, says on SVT Sport:
"Lina is already incredibly good, but that means if she is to get even better, there are little things you can work on. Power measurement is really such a next step. I am absolutely convinced that we will make her even stronger."




Johan Högstrand, CEO of Skisens AB, and skier Lina Korsgren

with the ski poles whose handle is based on Chalmers
technology. Photo: Mattias Reck


The background to the handle is a master's thesis, which was supervised in 2016 by Dan Kuylenstierna, associate professor at the Microwave Electronics Laboratory at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience – MC2 – at Chalmers, and postdoctoral student Szhau Lai at the same department.
"Szhau Lai, who had recently defended his thesis, showed a keen interest in sensors and embedded electronics. Through the Area of Advance Materials Science and Chalmers Sports & Technology he was given the opportunity to work with sensor solutions and underwater communication for swimming. The idea behind the ski power meter came as a spin-off from this work", says Dan Kuylenstierna.

Johan Högstrand, who studied automation and mechatronics, was one of the students. The group ou students also included Henrik Gingsjö, Jeanette Malm, Theo Berglin, Mathias Tengström and Marcus Bengths.

Photo of Dan Kuylenstierna.After the end of the thesis work, the students continued to develop the handle with support from Vinnova. In 2017, they took the victory in the business development competition Chalmers Ventures Startup Camp. This helped them to establish the company Skisens AB, with Johan Högstrand as CEO. Dan Kuylenstierna is co-owner and co-founder:
"With the large variations in the skiing conditions, power measurement is necessary to estimate performance. It is our conviction that in the long term it will be more important for skiiing than it currently is in cycling. The great importance of technical skills in cross-country skiing also makes it important to measure in the field under realistic conditions", says Dan (picture to the right).

One who early snatched up the rumor about the company is the former coach of the Swedish national biathlon team (Svenska Skidskytteförbundet), Wolfgang Pichler. Pichler immediately said that "power measurement is a revolution for skiing" and got the team to invest in a collaboration with Skisens. Dan Kuylenstierna emphasizes the importance of this work and sees it as crucial for the company’s position today.
"People like Wolfgang, who dare to invest in what is new even if the benefit lies several years into the future, are extremely valuable", he says.

Now the company has arrived at a product that opens to a wider market with more partners. Recently, they have thus started to collaborate with Lina Korsgren's team, Team Ramudden, where Mattias Reck is hired as head coach via the company Guided Heroes.
"It's very exciting to have the opportunity to apply my experience and knowledge in a new sport. In ski sports you often only have heart rate monitors, but with power meters in the sticks you can see how hard you press in every second, it gives completely new opportunities", says Mattias Reck in a press release.

Dan Kuylenstierna is also Deputy Director of Chalmers Sports & Technology, a venture that links academic research and sport in a number of projects. In the fall, he will lead the new course "Digitalization in Sports" within the framework of Chalmers new training venture Tracks, together with Moa Johansson at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
"We have got 22 applicants who will work in groups of five on different challenges from the world of sports", concludes Dan Kuylenstierna.

Text: Michael Nystås
Photo of Johan Högstrand and Lina Korsgren: Mattias Reck
Photo of Dan Kuylenstierna: Michael Nystås

Contact:
Dan Kuylenstierna, Associate Professor, Microwave Electronics Laboratory, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience – MC2, Chalmers University of Technology, dan.kuylenstierna@chalmers.se

See the feature on SVT Sport (in Swedish) >>>

Read more about powermeters for cross-country skiing >>>

Published: Fri 03 Jul 2020.