Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Ski Sunday presenter and Winter Olympian Graham Bell travelling at 117.48mph to become the fastest person ever towed on skis by a vehicle.
The five-time Olympic ski racer managed to beat the old record of 70mph by over 45mph. Bell took on the challenge in March 2017 at Jaguar Land Rover’s Revi Test Centre in Arjeplog in northern Sweden, close to the Arctic Circle, where the temperature was a chilly -28°C.
To prepare for the attempt, Bell went ski-joring (being towed) behind another Jaguar car in the Austrian Alps at the end of the 2015/16 season, where he recorded speeds of up to 100mph.
“We learnt that we needed a bar at the back to keep the rope taut so I could have equal weight on both skis,” Bell says. “Going directly behind the car was not an option because of the amount of snow smoke.”
For the record attempt, Bell was towed by a 380-horsepower Jaguar XF S Sportbreak car, and needed to remain in a tight tucked position along the frozen track.
“When you ski down a slope, gravity is pulling everything down,” he explains. “When being pulled along, you end up moving your centre of gravity to compensate for the force that’s going through your arms. It’s much more like waterskiing.
“The big fear was catching an edge, because I was only skiing on a centimetre of snow on top of bullet-proof ice. If you fall on the flat it’s always much more painful than if you fall on a steep slope.
Bell had five warm-up runs, initially reaching speeds of 50mph and moving progressively up to 100mph. “Getting to 100mph is not unusual for me, but going above that is a bit of a threshold. It took me a while to adjust.”
He then had three record attempts on the mile-long track, wearing a catsuit, downhill racing helmet, back protector and 240cm-long speed skis.
“Yes, there was fear, but it was overridden by my desire to go fast. On each attempt I was egging the driver to go as quickly as possible. It was all about how good the grip was during the acceleration. Fortunately I didn’t have any scary moments where I thought I’d eat it.”
With the record in the bag, Bell thinks he could go faster still, subject to three changes – a fairing to decrease the total drag and force travelling through his arms and hands, a faster car, and a track that’s three times the length. He would also need to upgrade his protective gear, switching to a motorcycle helmet and leathers with built-in airbags.
Bell believes he could then reach 160mph and become the fastest man on skis. He’s definitely up for the challenge and says, “I just need to convince Jaguar to go back and build a longer track.”
Source : Telegraph