Ski’s the limit
THE company that has driven its cars up ski slopes has now developed lightweight carbon skis to come back down. In 1980 and 2005, Audi produced TV commercials in which cars drove up ski slopes to promote its quattro all-wheel drive system.
Audi’s obsession with skiing began in 1980 when the company produced TV comercials featuring rally ace Harald Demuth driving an Audi 100 CS quattro almost 50m up the 80 per cent gradient (37.5 degree) Kaipola ski jump in Finland.
To mark 25 years of quattro, they did it again in 2005 with Audi engineer Uwe Bleck driving an A6 4.2 quattro up the same ski jump. Not once, but 11 times.
The only changes to the 2005 World Car of the Year were to the automatic transmission, which was fixed in first gear to prevent the usual slight momentary power losses during gear changes, and to the wheels, which were fitted with rally-style tyres with 6mm spikes.
Now, the Audi Concept Design studio has produced skis with an outer shell of high-strength carbon fibre enclosing layers of aluminium and titanium, and a wood core.
The first prototypes were tested on the slopes last month during the most famous downhill race in the world, the Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbuhel.