DID YOU KNOW THAT
YOU CAN LEARN PHYSICS
WHILE SKIING ?
This is about the science involved in downhill skiing.
Why is skiing on packed powder better than skiing right after a snowfall?
What things can I do to be sure of a nice smooth ride down the slope?
What kind of simple machine is a ski slope?
What is aerodynamics? And what does it have to do with skiing?
WHAT KIND OF FORCES ARE INVOLVED IN
Energy: Potential energy at the top of the ski slope -- which changes to kinetic energy when you're in motion.
Gravity: A force that pulls you to the earth, so it aids downhill motion.
Friction: Friction occurs when 2 moving surfaces meet. A lot of friction (rough, bumpy) makes motion harder; and a little friction (smoother) makes motion easier.
Aerodynamics: Wearing smooth clothes and crouching help you to reduce friction between yourself and the air ›› less drag. Your shape is more like a bird or a plane (aerodynamic.)
Center of mass, or center of gravity:
Bending your knees helps you find your center of balance.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS CAN I LOOK FOR
WHEN I HIT THE SLOPES?
◊ First of all, that ski slope is actually a machine – what we call a simple machine. It's an inclined plane, just like a ramp is. It makes work easier. And if you had to ski down a hill that wasn't smooth, skiing would be harder. Wouldn't it?
◊ After a fresh snowfall, the hill is not so smooth until the snow becomes packed. As you're standing at the top of the hill getting ready to push off,
your position there gives you a lot of potential energy: the higher you are, the more you have.
◊ Crouching down and pushing off -- kinetic energy of motion combined with the pull of gravity ….. along with a smooth surface and smooth skis -- means YOU will have an exciting ride down the hill!
\___ ‰ Whee !
Skiing: It's All About Friction
Marcia Howell, Univ. of Utah
NOTE: Univ. of Utah is a good resource for sport science
NBCLearn.com and the National Science Foundation
did videos at the 2010 Winter Olympics on sport science,
narrated by Lester Holt. See YouTube: