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Effect of tailwind in Thialf seems negligible, experts want follow-up research | NOW

The tailwind in Thialf has had only a minimal effect. This is the conclusion of Delft University of Technology from independent research into the air circulation system in the Frisian skating stadium.

TU Delft has established that the much-discussed system with deviating adjustment of the air diffusers causes an air flow of 0.5 kilometers per hour. That equals wind force 0 in the open air and is therefore negligible.

Last winter there was a commotion after lightning fast times were clocked in Heerenveen. For example, the Swede Nils van der Poel set a world record in the 10 kilometers at the World Championship Distances. In addition, Patrick Roest (5,000 meters) and Irene Schouten (3,000 meters) sharpened the track record considerably.

After criticism from skaters, Thialf decided to have an independent study carried out by TU Delft. “The values ​​are very small,” says aerodynamics researcher Alexander Spoelstra of TU Delft. “However, especially in top sport, small values ​​can have a major impact.”

Nils van der Poel is cheering after his world record in the 10,000 meters in Thialf.

TU Delft urges further research

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Although the measured tailwind falls within the norm of the NOC * NSF, Spoelstra recommends supplementing this initial study with a follow-up study. “The air flow has now been measured at one specific place on the ice rink. It is important to know whether the measured air flow is constant along the entire track.”

In addition, the researcher advises to also examine other factors, such as an air flow created by other skaters on the track or by the public. “That influence could be just as great.”

Moreover, Spoelstra wants to broaden the follow-up research. “It would be useful not to limit the follow-up research to Thialf alone. If other ice rinks where international competitions are held are also included, this puts the results in perspective and could be a first step towards standardization in skating.”

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