Ski Jump: Are You Flying or Falling In Style?

If we both take a leap at the highest possible height you and I can remain off the ground for approximately one-half of a second. Michael Jordan could stay aloft for nearly a second. There are a myriad of occasions during the Winter Olympics that feature athletes doing feats of athleticism or endurance while in the air however no event can blur the lines between flying and jumping nearly as much as the ski jump.

I train students in the physical physics behind sports. A ski jump can be among the more fascinating activities at the Winter Games to showcase physics in motion. Winners are the one who is the furthest from the ground and who jumps and land in the most elegant manner. Through transforming their bodies and skis into the wing of a ski the ski jumpers are able to defy gravity and remain in the air for between five and seven seconds while traveling approximately an length of an football field in the air. How do they accomplish this?

How To Fly

Three fundamental concepts of physics are in play in the ski jumping three major concepts from physics: drag, lift, and gravity.

The force of gravity pulls objects that is flying towards the ground. Gravity affects every object equally, and it is impossible for athletes to do to reduce its impact. However, the athletes also interact with air when they move. This interaction can result in lift. Lift is a force that goes upwards produced by the force of air on the object. If the force generated by lift is in some way balanced with gravity’s force the object will glide or even fly.

To generate lift, the object has to move. As the object travels in the air, its surfaces interacts with air particles, and forces these particles away from its path. When the air particles push back down and the object is then raised according to Newton’s Third Law of motion which states that for each move there is an opposite reaction. Air particles pushing objects upwards create lift. Speed increases and expanding the area of the object will boost the quantity of lift. It is also important to consider the Angle of Attack is that is the angle the object in relation towards the direction in which flow of air can affect the lift. If it is too steep, the object may stall, or too low and it will not push downwards on the air particle.

Although it may appear complex, sticking your hands from a car’s window demonstrates these concepts perfectly. If you keep your hand flat it will remain mostly in the same position. If you turn your hand to ensure that the your bottom is facing towards the direction of wind your hand will move upwards as air particles collide with it. This is known as lift.

The same collisions that occur between an object and the air that create lift also cause drag. Drag blocks the movement of an object, and it reduces its speed. When the speed slows down, lifting will as well, limiting the duration of an air flight.

Ski jumpers’ aim is to employ a careful body position to maximize lift while decreasing drag as much as is possible.

Skiing In The Air

Skiers get up high on a slope, then they ski downhill to gain speed. They reduce drag by kneeling down and carefully steering to minimize friction between their skis and the ramp. At the bottom, they are traveling at sixty miles an hour (96kph).

The ramp is finished at a point of takeoff that is, if you take a closer look you will see that it actually has an upward slope of about 10-degrees. When the athletes get to the top of their ramps, they leap. The landing slope on the skis is designed to replicate the steps a jumper might make so that they’re not more than 10 or fifteen meters over the floor.

When the athletes are up in the air, the excitement of physics begin.

The athletes do everything they can to generate the most lift they can while minimising drag. The athletes are not capable of generating enough lift to completely overcome gravity however the higher their lift the faster they’ll fall, and the further up the hill they’ll travel.

For this, athletes place their body and skis in line with the ground. They then position the skis into a V shape just away from the body. This will increase the surface area that produces lift. It also places them at the perfect angle of attack to increase lift.

When drag decreases speeds of skiers, the lift diminishes and gravity continues pulling on the skier. The athletes will fall faster and faster until they reach their destination.

The rules are based on physics. With so many physics at play there are lots of ways that wind or equipment selections, and even bodies of athletes could affect the distance the jump will go. In order to ensure fairness and secure, there are a number of rules.

When you are watching the event there is a possibility of officials shifting the starting point either up either down or up. This is done in accordance with the speed of the wind because faster headwinds can create higher lift and lead to longer jumps, which could extend over the safe landing area.

Ski length is also restricted and is based on a skier’s weight and height. Skis are allowed to be 145 percent of a skier’s height and those with an index of body mass less than 21 should have shorter skis. Skis that are long aren’t always ideal as the heavier you ski, greater lift you’ll need for you to remain in the air. In addition, skiers need to wear tight-fitting clothes in order to make sure that they don’t use their clothing to provide additional lift.

While you are watching the Olympics to be amazed by the strength and power that the competitors display, be sure to think about their understanding of the theories of physical science.

What Are The Characteristics of A Top Mogul Skier Like Matt Graham?

This morning, Matt Graham was awarded Australia’s first medal – one of silver in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the freestyle moguls.

Graham’s second-placed finish was the 3rd time that an Australian has been awarded an award in the event at an Winter Olympics. Dale Begg Smith who was the coach of Graham’s mentor Steve Descovich – took home silver at the 2006 Turin Olympics along with silver medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Is Mogul Skiing A Sport?

Official mogul races since. In the International Ski Handbook of the Federation states that a mogul race:

… will consist of a single free skis on a steep course, with a lot of moguled terrain that emphasizes technical turns, aerial maneuvers and speed.

Mogul events comprises at least one round (beginning with a single run for all participants) and a final stage comprising one or more rounds. Graham’s silver medal came following four sessions along the Olympic course, which included one qualifying round, and the three rounds that concluded.

The thing that makes the mogul discipline distinct is the fact that it is also a judged event as well as one that is timed.

Athletes are awarded scores of 100 for their total time (20 points) and their ability to turn maneuvers (60 points) and aerial maneuvers (20 points). In the assessment of turn, five judges decide “rhythmic changes in direction of travel”. Two judges judge the shape and difficultness of a mogul skier’s aerial maneuvers.

The International Ski Federation’s judges handbook offers clear guidelines for granting points to athletes.

Physical Demands

Moguls skiers are faced with a myriad of physical obstacles in their sport. They are able to ski at a high speeds, downhill on steep terrain and must to take the shock to their bodies caused by a myriad of artificially created undulations, referred to as moguls.

The Olympic track is:

… an upward slope with an average slope at 28°, a variation between the two elevations of 110 meters in length, a course length of 250m, and a minimum length of 18 metres. In the middle of the course is comprised of 2 jumps.

While training, athletes have to be able to adapt to the forces they’ll encounter at high speed. They also need to prepare to make two landings down steep slopes as they attempt to perform aerial manoeuvres on a higher level.

In Pyeongchang the athletes faced extremely low temperatures that altered the surface of the ski surface.

Mental Demands

The decision to engage in mogul ski racing requires athletes to improve their mental abilities to handle the amount of training that is required as well as their precision technical abilities, and the ability to withstand the cold temperatures of a snow surface that is different each time they ski.

Like all sports players must consider the risk of injury, especially to their lower legs.

A 2010 study on freestyle skiers revealed:

… The risk of injury among World Cup athletes in freestyle skiing is extremely high, and especially for injuries that are severe. The knee is among the most often damaged body part and is heavily impacted by serious injuries.

Coaching Is A Crucial Part of The Job

Mogul skiing’s tactical and technical aspects offer coaches the chance to build a personal training environment for their athletes.

Australia has the head coach (Desovich) and an instructor for jumping (Jerry Grossi). Both coach athletes in an environment of daily training that spans the globe. Graham has been competing in international events since 2010. He was a finalist in this year’s Sochi Olympics.

The silver medal he won in Pyeongchang is the result of the support of his relatives and close associates, as well as years of hard work and the advice of seasoned coaches.

French Ski Resorts Are At Risk of Getting Hooked By Artificial Snow

It’s not yet winter however French ski resorts have already begun to resort to snowmaking. The warmer temperatures that have come because of changes in the climate have resulted in its use becoming established in recent years and 29 percent of French ski slopes equipped with snowmaking devices including snow propellers or lances. The process of making snow is by spraying tiny drops of water into a cold environment, which then solidify when they reach the ground. The consistency is comparable to the consistency of snow that has been compacted.

There’s been no shortage of dissent against this method of production, which was first exposed around the turn of the century. Then, in September of 2023 the Mayor of La Clusaz, a commune situated to West of Chamonix was able to stop the construction of a reservoir which would have provided the water needed to make snow in the wake of many years of protest from environmental organizations. As the climate crisis gets worse the viability of this technology to adapt is likely to provoke further discussion.

In an Journal article we have uncovered the ways that the sport industry in winter is in a bind on snowmaking.

Away From The Harsh Winters

The snowmaking technology has been created through an industry group in the French snow sports sector since the first trials began in 1973. The technology is being increasingly used in regular use to improve the conditions on the slopes. Between 2005 and 2016, snowmaking accounted of the equivalent of 20% the total expenditure by ski resort management which is the second largest segment after the purchase of brand new lifts for skiing.

The current market isn’t just a focus of skiers as well as all other players in the field of winter sports. Agents for apartment rentals that offer “ski-in, ski-out” facilities Tour operators who want guarantee for their package deals and alpine communities wishing for snow to return to their community All pray that snowmaking will bless their projects.

Despite the rapid growth in this type of technology and the technological advancements made, changing weather conditions due to climate change can be a deterrent aspect. The process of making snow doesn’t release the operators from restrictions like the requirement for sub-zero temperatures as well as the dependence on the availability of a abundant water supply. The effects caused by climate change have been decreasing the depth of snow cover and also chances to create snow.

Although the future climate risks hindering how effective snowmaking is, a move away from it is a challenge to the sports industry. The situation is been only recently been examined.

A Classic ‘Path Dependence’

Our research shows that snowmaking has pushed the world of winter sports to an incontrovertible “path dependence”. The prior decisions to invest in this technology as well as the increase in snow cover that have been achieved over the years result in continued spending denying other activities of resources either natural or economic like water supply.

This dependency can result in ski tourism taking an expansionary path as it is to lead it down the other one, but with distinct consequences for mountain areas.

To consider the scenario of expansion making investments in the snowmaking industry has backed up a weather-dependent, seasonal process that exhibits the traits of a major business. Basically, the process of developing an ski resort requires large capital expenditures, most notably to renew the ski lifts, and fixed costs that increase the business’s vulnerability to financial risks arising from the inherent variability of weather. In addition, there is the expertise and ever-sophisticated techniques for making snow, and the rise in dedicated service.

The end result is that snowmaking creates an opportunity for tourism for France within the established as well as highly competitive European skiing market. Making snow is a way to maintain France’s market share which is the third largest in the world of winter sports after those of the US as well as Austria having 50 million skiing days in the year. It also accounts for nearly 27% share of the international skiers.

A total of 10 percent of French citizens participate in winter activities every year, which equates to 7 percent of the domestic guests staying overnight in the metropolitan area of France. Furthermore, France’s 250 skiing resorts are expected to provide more than 120,000 employment opportunities.

Many much-needed, yet long needed, but however, the process could be a path of contraction. The investment that is made in snowmaking can will only benefit the ski industry, ensuring an industry-specific economy of winter tourism in sports. The risk of over-specialisation could result in negative effects on the mountain region as a whole. This could delay the inevitable changes, and reduce the effects of actions that are aimed towards expanding Alpine economy.

In this way, a vicious circle is formed The tendency to invest in equipment for snowmaking captures resources that could be utilized to get the ball rolling towards an the eventual change. This calls for a coordinated institutional and economic response. Perhaps the state can assist in helping these regions break free of the dependence on skiing, or in fact, from all tourism in the face of the realities of climatic and environmental changes.