It has long been thought of and now there is concrete proof in the development of air bags being used to protect downhill racers. FIS have been working with Italian back protection manufacturer, Dainese, … for a number of years with the view to creating back protection that works similar to air bags. For the Val Gardena training run, Jan Hudec (pictured) and Werner Heel used the new units. FIS Race Director, Gunther Hujara, explained to the media after the second training run that these were prototypes.
The project is still in the developmental stage yet Hujara and Dainese both agree that they are close to a final version. The goal of the project is to define the moment when the athlete is no longer able to handle the forces when crashing. Protection of the racer is what it is all about.
With the second training run seeing both Hudec and Heel sporting a hump like object on their back, many of the coaches that saw the product were surprised in a positive way with what they saw with the D-Air system.
Dainese have a strong history with back protection through their motocycle division and will present the full product in Kitzbuehel after more testing in Bormio. FIS are determined to provide a fully working unit by 2014.