VSR 2016 – A study in mud
The Valla Saucer Rennen 2016 concluded on Saturday. Despite the absence of snow, the Y Section’s entertainment committee was able to conduct the competition down the Valla massif as planned. All that was needed was mud, creativity, and a magnificent saucer.
Theo Westny is shaking hands and smiling while trying to find a less noisy corner of the competition area at the foot of the Valla massif. He is in charge of sponsors in Y6, the Technical Physics section’s entertainment committee, and also the organiser of today’s competition.
“We started building the area early yesterday morning. Being responsible for the competition has been really stressful, but fun. I started planning in November, so it’s a bit odd that now it’s really time,” he says.
He tells us that a lot of the planning dealt with coordinating the businesses assisting in the competition area, and getting the right material there at the right time.
“Today almost nothing has gone as I’d intended, but we’re still keeping to the schedule. This is what helps you manage,” he says, looking at the several hundred clearly satisfied visitors.
Valla Saucer Rennen, often called VSR, has attracted students from near and far since its beginning in 1979. Nearly half of this year’s competitors are foreign teams – that is, students from other universities in Sweden. According to the organiser, VSR is northern Europe’s larges parallel saucer competition. And what’s a saucer? The short answer is that it’s in the eye of the competitor. A more objective description is that it’s a craft that will take at least one person down a hill in a condition that’s difficult to determine. You should also be able to push it down the hill.
The 26 competing teams have built their own competition equipment in a variety of ways. One team has a miniature double-decker bus on skis. Another has put runners on an old mixing panel. A third seems to have built their saucer of materials they found on the way to the competition. The 16 best contributions are weeded out through time trials; after that, the competition occurs through direct elimination. Y6 has forgone all basic training and left that to the competitors. The saucers roll or slide down the hill at a good speed, not infrequently with a couple of visits to the barriers along the edge of the path. The winter grass on the hill is quickly replaced with watery mud, to the competitors’ great delight.
The ‘M-verkstan’ student association is responsible for what is probably the most well-constructed equipage. They built a saucer of aluminium for Y6 for promotional purposes, but then decided to take part in the competition themselves.
“We’ve probably put 300 hours into this. We built most of it in a week, and threw the wheel suspension together in a few days. We welded the last of it this morning,” says Ivar Johansson of M-verkstan, who also provided the construction with hydraulic disc brakes.
It was however, the 720 ski association who won this year’s edition. The other teams seem to have soon forgotten their loss.
“The most important thing is being here and meeting new people, not winning”, says Robert Sjöwall, who for the second year in a row travelled from Chalmers to take part in VSR.
Text: Adam Rindesjö, student reporter
Photo: Cecilia Olsson, student photographer
8 Feb 2016
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Last updated: 2017-02-13