Freelap Ski Timing
At Skivo Academy we run ski camps, Test Technique training, and Euro Test training. We have previously had access to ski timing, but it was never easy. We didn't own it outright, we borrowed it and invariably we had troubles with it. When it worked it was great; however, when one of the lasers fell out of line, or one of the athletes forgot to put their bib number on, or we got interference from others using the same timing system it became a nightmare. God forbid if one of the athletes hit one of the lasers!
When we looked into timing systems for our training camps we researched the main brands: Brower, Tag Heuer and Micorgate. The problem was that all of these operate on a laser system. There was one system that worked differently - the Freelap Timing system. Freelap used magnetic field transmitters and receivers.
It wasn't something we had seen previously so we did some research and saw the following video.
It looked interesting so we arranged to meet Jean Pierre, the owner at their headquarters in Switzerland. Jean Pierre created the system after a career at Polar, the heart rate monitor company. He is very enthusiastic and passionate about his products and we liked what we were hearing. It all seemed so simple. It is essentially a ready to go timing setup, no need to synchronise all of the various parts. Best of all it worked out cheaper than the other more well know brands.
The downside with the Freelap system is that we won't be able to run big races. We can only time the people wearing a watch or chip. This isn't a problem for us because we bought the system specifically for training and we don't intend to have more than 10 people on any course.
We had every intention to buy the watch system as shown in the video above. However, when we arrived at the factory and saw the other the options we decided it would be better if the coach could see the time and have a choice as to whether the athlete could see their times. We ended up going for a more custom design and what we considered to be a much better setup:
TX start gate
2 x TX Power 5 Alpine (so we can do splits)
Pro-coach (the coach can see the time)
LCD screen (the athlete can see the time if we turn it on)
It took a little time for us to get used to how close we had to have the sensors to the race course but now we've got to grips with that the rest is simple - drill a few holes and turn on!
We're now using timing every day when we're training. It's like having another coach on board. We don't always tell students their times, but it gives the coach a good reference point. We've also found that it also helps with the motivation of our young racers and trainee ski instructors.