The Science of Ski Jumping

The Science of Ski Jumping

Skiing

The Science of Ski Jumping

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Can we take a moment to acknowledge that ski jumping is one of the craziest sports out there?

Skiing itself is a thrill, but I can’t imagine the adrenaline rush these athletes get by flying more than a football field through the air on skis.

It’s just plain crazy. You can’t convince me otherwise.

Vox put together a cool video (below) that explains why ski jumpers hold that iconic V shape. It’s a great way to get your Thursday morning kicked off.

It’s all about aerodynamics, baby.

VoxIf you looked at photos of ski jumpers today and ski jumpers 50 years ago, you’d notice one big difference.

In the past, jumpers held their skis tightly underneath their body in a parallel position. Keeping the body in a straight line like this was considered elegant and appealing. But more importantly, it was the position jumpers used to gather as much distance as possible. This position made athletes thin and small, which allowed them to move forward through the air quickly. However, the parallel position didn’t do much to help them fight gravity.

In the 1980s, ski jumper Jan Boklov tested out a different ski position — one that resembled a V. He noticed that the V shape allowed him to achieve longer distances.

That’s because, unlike the parallel position, the V position allows air to hit athletes’ bodies directly. Instead of cutting through the air quickly, they’re using their body to catch air like a wing. This extra air lifts athletes up, allowing them to stay airborne longer — and go further. This small change revolutionized the sport, and since then, gold medal winners have used the V style to make it to the podium.

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