Journal article

Aerodynamic drag is not the major determinant of performance during giant slalom skiing at the elite level

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Author list: Holmberg, Hans-Christer

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Publication year: 2013

Start page: e38

End page: e47

ISSN: 0905-7188

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sms.12007

View additional information: View in Web of Science


Abstract

This investigation was designed to (a) develop an individualized mechanical model for measuring aerodynamic drag (Fd) while ski racing through multiple gates, (b) estimate energy dissipation (Ed) caused by Fd and compare this to the total energy loss (Et), and (c) investigate the relative contribution of Ed/Et to performance during giant slalom skiing (GS). Nine elite skiers were monitored in different positions and with different wind velocities in a wind tunnel, as well as during GS and straight downhill skiing employing a Global Navigation Satellite System. On the basis of the wind tunnel measurements, a linear regression model of drag coefficient multiplied by cross-sectional area as a function of shoulder height was established for each skier (r?>?0.94, all P?Fd, Et, and Ed per GS turn were 15–21?m/s, 20–60?N, -11 to -5?kJ, and -2.3 to -0.5?kJ, respectively. Ed/Et ranged from ~5% to 28% and the relationship between Et/vin and Ed was r?=?-0.12 (all NS). In conclusion, (a) Fd during alpine skiing was calculated by mechanical modeling, (b) Ed made a relatively small contribution to Et, and (c) higher relative Ed was correlated to better performance in elite GS skiers, suggesting that reducing ski–snow friction can improve this performance.


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