Thorn reveals SSL details on Alpine World Cup 2020 project

July 20, 2021
Outdoor layered LED lighting combined with controls in Zürs, Austria delivered on the HDTV experience and can be toned down for practice and recreation.

It’s mid-summer and perfect for a story about an alpine lighting project for snow sports, right? Well, we can’t time when details of a solid-state lighting (SSL) project emerge, and Thorn (a Zumtobel brand) has just released details of a project that debuted in late 2020 in the Arlberg region of Austria. Layered LED lighting was installed near the Flexenarena gondola in Zürs, which hosted the Alpine World Cup 2020 that launched the 2020/2021 alpine sports season. The SSL combined with controls uniquely serve the stringent lighting requirements for HDTV broadcasts and also the warmer, more subtle lighting needed for everyday usage.

We have covered many LED lighting projects at professional sports venues over the past decade. Early on, stadium owners/managers wanted to transition to LEDs to save energy without much regard to quality. Quickly the focus turned to quality of light for the athletes, for spectators at the live venue, and for TV watchers that enjoy increasingly richer video streams. It was perhaps the National Football League Super Bowl in 2015 in Glendale, AZ where the viewer experience was first highlighted.

In Europe, similar stories have been focused on soccer or European football. For example, Sevilla FC in Spain turned to LED lighting back in 2017. Moving to alpine sports, the venue lighting shared some of the same challenges as do field sports. The Slalom and Giant Slalom races to be held at Flexenarena would require cameras to capture dynamic motion, requiring high light levels. But the venue would also require the lighting to work with the reflective surface of the snow. And ultimately the lighting needed to have modes that suited practice and recreation requirements, and minimized light pollution, on the 375m ski piste or run.

The Peter Samt engineering firm undertook the outdoor lighting design task where competition would require 1200 lx minimum in vertical illuminance, while minimizing horizontal illuminance that would cause glare. The design team selected Thorn Altis floodlights in part because of the unique optics used in the luminaires. The luminaires delivered the required illuminance and the required vertical uniformity for the camera.

The installation relies on 12 22m poles, with six installed on either side of the piste. The poles were spaced at 60m intervals long the length of the piste. Poles were spaced 55m apart across the piste. Each pole hosts 17 luminaires. And the configuration is relatively complex. The design relies on a mix of symmetrical and asymmetrical optics. Moreover, the SSL includes both 5700K-CCT luminaires for the high light levels and bright-white light required for TV and 3000K luminaires for other uses.

The design team sought to deliver uniformity while also eliminating scattered light. Ultimately the design met the European EN 12193 standard for sports lighting and Austrian regulations on light pollution.

Controls were instrumental in the design delivering on the project requirements. The team installed the Zumtobel Litecom system that enabled precise control of each luminaire. For recreational activities, the 5700K luminaires can be powered off and the 3000K luminaires can be dimmed to their lowest possible setting. For some training activities, the lights can be set at a level between the recreational minimum and the bright lights required for TV. A smartphone or tablet can be used to adjust the light levels.

Thorn has posted a video on the project. It looks interesting. You can see how the luminaires were affixed to the pole and support structure on the ground and then lifted into position. Moreover, the video has some clips of skiing action that shows the project in action.

LEDs Magazine chief editor MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade.

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