Physics in the Olympics

The science behind it all

Physics behind jumping

Ski jumping involves, wind tunnel measurements, computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling of aero- dynamic forces and torques, computer simulations of the flight trajectory, and computer-modeling-based design of jumping hills. Ski jumping puts high demands on the athlete’s ability to control posture and movement. During the in-run the athlete tries to maximize acceleration by minimizing both the friction between skis and snow and the aerodynamic drag in order to obtain a maximum in-run speed

The Change

The International Ski Federation maintains tables that provide the maximum length of skis for those with lower BMIs. A 5-foot-8-inch tall competitor with a BMI of 19 (weighing 125 pounds) would be limited to skis measuring about 8 feet 1 inch long -- almost 3 inches shorter than someone with a BMI of at least 2. Cutting the skis is a good solution since the 'wings' of the jumper are reduced, leading to lower lift thus shorter jumps,. However, his wind tunnel tests showed that the ski length restrictions are not severe enough to overcome the benefits of being light.

Amazing Science - Winter Olympics: Ski Jumping

Technology Changes this Year

The jumps are made of ceramic, and utilize a technology known as "ALOSLIDE." It allows for a smooth inrun (what ski jumpers call that terrifying run down the ramp). Cooling elements inside the grooves create a layer of ice 20 millimeters thick in temperatures as warm as 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasing the acceleration making record holding jumps this year.

01Stoch, K.278.0

02Prevc, P.265.3

03Bardal, A.264.1

04Diethart, T.258.3

05Hayboeck, M.258.4

Ski Jump Variable: the WIND - explained in a wind tunnel!