Sports aerodynamics

Technical service highlights

The NRC's capabilities in bluff body aerodynamics are extensive and reach far beyond the study of the effects of wind on airplanes, bridges, buildings and vehicles. The NRC is also renowned for its sports aerodynamics testing. For over 50 years, the NRC's 2 m x 3 m wind tunnel has been used to test Canadian athletes' aerodynamic positions, equipment and clothing to help them reach the podium in international and Olympic competitions. The NRC's expertise has repeatedly been called upon to assist Canada's Olympic Own the Podium initiative, complementing training with science and technology. Our research has yielded impressive results, helping Canadian athletes become faster and be their best.


The science of gold — 50 years, 16 sports

The NRC has worked to scientifically enhance the performance of Canada's Olympic athletes in:

  • Alpine skiing
  • Biathlon
  • Bobsleigh
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Cycling
  • Kayak
  • Luge
  • Para-alpine skiing
  • Para-cycling
  • Skeleton
  • Ski cross
  • Ski jumping
  • Snowboard
  • Speed skating — Long track
  • Speed skating — Short track
  • Wheelchair athletics

What we offer

The NRC applies its knowledge and expertise in bluff body aerodynamics to understand the aerodynamics of the human body. We analyze airflow around the body and the various aerodynamic factors that can influence the performance of athletes and their equipment. The focus is on aerodynamic drag. Because athletes continuously shift body positions as they perform their sport, aerodynamic drag is measured for key sport-specific positions. Understanding how airflow affects their performance can help them improve their body position and reduce drag.

Athletes and coaches can simulate race sequences during wind tunnel testing and get real-time feedback. The results of aerodynamic performance tests are analyzed and interpreted on the spot, allowing recommendations for improvements to body positions, clothing and equipment to be implemented quickly. Athletes are able to see and feel improvements resulting from even minor adjustments to these factors.

Male athlete standing in race position on a snowboard, wearing a suit, helmet and goggles

Aerodynamics testing of snowboard athlete

A female athlete is in the prone position on her skeleton sled.

Aerodynamics testing of skeleton athlete

Why work with us

The NRC has both a depth of knowledge in sport aerodynamics and the versatility to customize research and testing to a variety of sports. Our in-house technical experts will devise a customized testing plan using cutting edge facilities and equipment to collect the data needed to help enhance performance. Generating wind speeds of up to 400 km/hr, our 2 m x 3 m wind tunnel can accommodate aerodynamic testing for any sport. Bobsleigh and luge athletes can reach speeds of up to 160 km/h, alpine skiers up to 130 km/h and speed skaters up to 65 km/h. Our experts, facilities, and ability to analyze and deliver data in real time are a winning combination that will ensure athletes and their equipment reach peak aerodynamic performance.


We offer fee-for-service testing that includes the support of technical experts, research officers and engineers. Contact us to discuss your options and develop a customized plan to fit your technology needs.

Contact us

Dean Flanagan, Business Development Officer
Telephone: 613-990-8319