High Tech Skiing
How Toyota Motorsports in Great Britain made a German Paralympic champion stronger than ever
After months of dedicated practice, and with the help of motorsport technology, Germany’s Andrea Eskau began taking on the challenge of the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang last week, with a remarkable target in mind.
The 46-year-old Eskau has won medals at the last five Paralympic Games – both summer and winter – including gold in the last three. Now, a decade since her first Paralympic appearance, she headed to South Korea in peak condition and with the benefit of a high-tech ski sled, inspired by top-level motorsport.
Eskau used the new ski sled – produced by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) using technology developed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race – in both biathlon and cross-country skiing during the first weekend of the Paralympics. Eskau won silver in the 12K cross-country competition while finishing 6th in biathlon.
Eskau’s weekend performance highlighted several advantages with her ski sled, such as a 30 percent weight reduction compared to her previous model and improved stability and ergonomics intended to make the overall handling and, particularly, the shooting section of the biathlon easier.
Eskau suffered spinal injuries in a 1998 cycling accident and has worked with TMG since 2012. The partnership began with a group of employees in Cologne, Germany supporting her in their spare time, Eventually, it evolved into official support, inspired by her determination and will to win, values TMG’s shares in its motorsport projects.
“Andrea has a very good technical understanding and a lot of ideas, so at each meeting we created good solutions together,” says TMG’s project leader Norbert Schäfer. “Her approach is clearly improvement-related to get the most possible performance out of the athlete and her tools, in this case her ski sled. This is exactly how we operate in motorsport as well.”