Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    30
  • comments
    30
  • views
    2,130

The Physics Behind Skiing

Sign in to follow this  
krdavis18

1,137 views

In this second addition of physics in winter, I will explore the physics behind skiing. Three popular skiing events that physics plays a large role in include alpine or downhill skiing, Nordic or cross country skiing, and ski jumping. Each sport can be manipulated using physics to achieve faster speeds and greater results.

In alpine skiing, there are several elements of physics that come into play. On a most basic level, downhill skiing involves the conversion of potential energy at the top of the hill into kinetic energy as the skier approaches the bottom of the hill. But as the skier goes around sharp turns through gates during a race, the physics becomes much more complicated. You can dive deep into the complexity of a perfect curved turn and the physics behind it, but here's a short video that helps explain it. 

Another major factor in downhill skiing is air resistance. You often see skiers in this crouching position, as shown in the picture below, to help them go faster. By crouching down low, skiers are reducing their projected frontal area, thus reducing the amount of drag force on them. 

                                        skier.jpg.851d7befe170d662c8d7212dac6f973b.jpg

This technique is also used in ski jumping as a skier descends the hill and attempts to gain the most kinetic energy at the bottom of the hill so that they will land the farthest away from the hill. Another strategy they use to increase their distance is employed during takeoff. Skiers minimize drag and maximize lift when they lean forward and make a V-shape with their skis, as shown in the picture below.

                                          5a6a793f48d9c_skijumper.thumb.jpg.55e5cb957c10ac5af3460ee6038077b8.jpg 

By spreading the skis into a V-shape instead of leaving them parallel, the skier increases the projected frontal area of the skis that is perpendicular to the direction of air flow relative to the skier. This increases the lift force that allows the skier to stay in the air longer and reach farther distances. This technique was initially ridiculed when it was first introduced by Swedish jumper Jan Bokloev in 1985. However, the physics behind the V-shape prevailed and by 1992, all Olympic medalists were using this style. 

Finally, in Nordic skiing, a skier must push himself forward using his own force, rather than being able to rely on the force of gravity to gain speed. To do this, they use a strategy vary similar to what skaters do which I discussed in my last blog post. Here is a picture to help you get a better idea of what I am referring to. 

 

                                                        schematic of nordic skier pushing off the snow

 

Thanks for reading!

nordic skiing.webp

Sign in to follow this  


0 Comments


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Terms of Use

The pages of APlusPhysics.com, Physics in Action podcasts, and other online media at this site are made available as a service to physics students, instructors, and others. Their use is encouraged and is free of charge. Teachers who wish to use materials either in a classroom demonstration format or as part of an interactive activity/lesson are granted permission (and encouraged) to do so. Linking to information on this site is allowed and encouraged, but content from APlusPhysics may not be made available elsewhere on the Internet without the author's written permission.

Copyright Notice

APlusPhysics.com, Silly Beagle Productions and Physics In Action materials are copyright protected and the author restricts their use to online usage through a live internet connection. Any downloading of files to other storage devices (hard drives, web servers, school servers, CDs, etc.) with the exception of Physics In Action podcast episodes is prohibited. The use of images, text and animations in other projects (including non-profit endeavors) is also prohibited. Requests for permission to use such material on other projects may be submitted in writing to info@aplusphysics.com. Licensing of the content of APlusPhysics.com for other uses may be considered in the future.

×
×
  • Create New...