Olympians in Charlotte? Skiers Visit NC For Secret Reason

Skiers Use NASCAR To Test Suits

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. -- Far, far away from the slopes of Pyeongchang, or really any ski slopes, a group gathers in an old warehouse off a country road in Mooresville.

Two members of the group are not what most would expect to witness in rural North Carolina, they're part of the United States Olympic Alpine Ski Team preparing to bring home gold in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics. 

"We came through the airport and people are like, 'Why do you have ski boots on?'" 25-year-old Bryce Bennett said.

Bennett and Steven Nyman, 35, traveled across the country to Mooresville with an entourage of sponsors in pursuit of one thing: The A2 Wind Tunnel. 

The tunnel is usually filled with NASCAR drivers, testing out the aerodynamics of their cars. But on this September day in 2017, the tunnel is occupied by the ski industry's top experts testing a brand new, state-of-the-art suit that will soon be witnessed worldwide as Bennett and Nyman compete. 

The testing has been so top secret, NBC Charlotte's footage has been embargoed until just days before the skiers hit the slopes in South Korea.

"These wind tunnels out here are ideal for us to get as much information as possible," Bennett said. 

The tunnel's wind speed can reach up to 80 mph as scientists sit just feet away, monitoring how the air travels across several different sample suits. The tests are done to provide analysis on a variety of aspects including the suit's fabric. The wrong fabric could slow down athletes by milliseconds, potentially being detrimental in the greatest competition of their lifetime. That's why a seamstress stands by making adjustments on the spot.

"Most people just think we're crazy thrill-seekers, racing downhill," Nyman said. "But we're very calculated."

Suitmaker Spyder said the 2018 Winter Olympic suits are unlike anything the world has ever seen. 

From mock-up to medal stand, the suits have taken a year to craft with designers being inspired by something familiar... race cars and their aerodynamic details.

"Accepting the air and doing something with it, so that it can flow out a little quicker," said Spyder's Vice President of Marketing Brady Collings.

So when Charlotteans tune in for the Olympics to watch the U.S. Alpine Ski Team go for gold, know their ski suits were tested and approved right here in the Carolinas.

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