Advanced level English : technical
in the wind
technology helps skiers go faster than ever
There was a time when sports just involved human stamina
muscle power; not so today...
Science and technology have
made their way into competition sports such as skiing and athletics,
almost as much as they have in the world of motor racing.
Equipment manufacturers are spending
increasingly large budgets on research and development, and making more
and more use of state-of-the-art
materials, such as kevlar and carbon
fibres in the production of a whole range of sports items, from skis to
tennis rackets. At the same time, designers are using computer assisted
design programs to produce low-weight high-performance equipment, which
is stretching the capacity of today's athletes far beyond that of
generations of champions.
Everywhere, technology designed to help
aerospace or other mechanical engineers, is being used to help
sportsmen reach new frontiers of achievement
Members of Britain's speed skiing team,
for instance, used the wind tunnel facilities of a marine technology
company, in order to obtain the best possible aerodynamic efficiency,
as they prepared for recent winter Olympics.
To measure the drag forces
, ski bindings
were attached to a table anchored to a 6-component strain gauge
directly beneath, and each team member was videoed in an air stream of
40m a second. Through a window in the chamber floor, the skier was able
to see his image in profile, together with a numeric display
the drag force he was generating, so that he could adopt the best
Speed skiing was introduced in the
Olympics in the 1990s..
ability to continue an effort -
ultra modern, cutting-edge -
past, earlier - achievement:
- drag forces:
CX, wind resistance -
attachments - strain gauge:
for measuring tension - display:
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Skiing in the Wind
Active to passive
passive voice is commonly used in scientific and technical English – more so than in "normal" writing. More
attention is paid to statistics and results than to the people
responsible for them. The
text uses a mixture of active and passive structures. Transform the
verbs in these extracts from Skiing in the Wind from the active to the
1. Equipment manufacturers are spending increasingly large budgets on research and development.
They are making more and more use of state-of-the-art materials such as
kevlar and carbon fibers in the production of a whole range of sports
3. Designers are using computer assisted design programs to produce low-weight high-performance equipment.
4. This is stretching the capacity of today's athletes far beyond that of previous generations of champions.
Members of Britain's speed skiing team used the wind tunnel
facilities of a marine technology company in order to obtain the best
possible aerodynamic efficiency.
6. Through a window in the chamber floor, the skiier could see his image in profile.
7. A numeric display shows the drag force he was generating.
For more verbs in the passive, see Linguapress online grammar page: The Passive
Teachers section : Using this article in class
1 Compound nouns - a classic feature of technical English
Have students pick out the noun groups in which one noun is modified by another.
power, competiton sports, computer assisted design programs,low-weight
high-performance equipment, wind tunnel facilities, marine technology
company, 6-component strain guage, chamber floor,
Ask students to explain these terms, for example: "muscle power"
is power which requires or uses muscles, or physical strength.
EFL teachers: Help develop this resource by contributing extra teaching
materials or exercises.
copyright Linguapress 2015.
Revised 2015 . Originally published in Spectrum, the Advanced level
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised