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Časoris
Skakalci morajo imeti zelo oprijete obleke. Vir: Flickr
Skakalci morajo imeti zelo oprijete obleke. Vir: Flickr

The physics of ski jumping

Our ski jumpers have excelled this year at the Olympics. This weekend we supported them in Planica.

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However, not only are good physical condition, concentration and talent important for their success, but also an understanding of the basic concepts of physics.

The length of a ski jump is influenced by three things: gravity (or the force of gravity), dynamic lift and resistance.

The force of gravity pulls us towards the ground – so the jumper sooner or later lands on the ground. However, they remain in the air during the jump due to dynamic buoyancy.

Depending on the weather conditions, the organizers adjust the starting point on the ski jump.

Glede na vremenske pogoje organizatorji prilagajajo štartno mesto na skakalnici. Vir: Pixabay
Depending on the weather conditions, the organizers adjust the starting point on the ski jump. Source: Pixabay

As the air resistance slows the jumper down, the dynamic buoyancy is also reduced, so they start to descend due to gravity.

Ski jumpers therefore use their body position to make the most of dynamic buoyancy while trying to limit air resistance.

Due to sensitive laws of physics, wind, equipment and even the athlete’s body can all affect the length of the jump.

You may have already noticed that during ski jumping, organizers often move the starting point on the ski jump.

This adjustment depends on the wind – if the wind was too strong and the jumper had too high a speed, it would take them too far, even into the spectators.

It could also slow them down a lot and they’d have to land too fast.

With the adjustments, the organizers are trying to make sure that all the competitors will perform in as similar a situation as possible.

Ski jumpers need to pay close attention to their body position.

Smučarski skakalci morajo zelo paziti na položaj svojega telesa. Vir: Wikimedia Commons
Ski jumpers need to pay close attention to their body position. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The skis are also prepared for each jumper individually – depending on body index and height.

It’s also important that the clothes fit snugly so that they cannot help you fly.

Correction

An unwelcome mistake has crept into the post. Buoyancy does not depend on speed, but on body volume. Dynamic buoyancy is associated with speed; when the jumper’s speed decreases, it also decreases.

Points To Consider

  1. What is the largest ski jump in Slovenia?
  2. Who discovered gravity?
  3. Where will the next Olympics be?

***

The original version of this article was published on March 23rd.

English translation courtesy of JL FlannerTotal Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.

Dora

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