The Physics of Skiing
I have been skiing for about five years and I find it to be one of the most fun and challenging sports there is. A lot of the reason it is so challenging is because of the laws of physics such as gravity and friction. In this essay I will discuss how physics relates to skiing and how this physics makes skiing so fun and challenging. I will also discuss how things like wax and the shape and width of your skis can affect these laws of physics and enhance your skiing.
There are really only two main forces acting on a skier, they are gravity and air resistance. The first and most important thing relating to the physics of skiing is the law of gravity. Gravity is the most familiar force in our everyday lives it is the force that keeps us on the ground it is also the force that makes things fall. We have all heard the saying, “what goes up must come down.” This saying is relating to gravity.
Near the earths surface the acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 m/s^2. When you ski you are taken up to the top of a mountain by a chair lift once you reach the top of the mountain gravity wants to pull you back down the mountain. These forces of gravity and air resistance are what make skiing happen. The air resistance of a skier has a huge effect on how fast a skier is going to go. Air resistance is major factor in ski racing. A skier may reduce his or her air resistance by skiing in a tucked position. This reduces the amount of area that the wind has to hit, thus creating less drag and causing the skier to go a lot faster. Some world class skiers even have helmets that come to a point a few inches behind their head like an airplane wing to further reduce their drag.
The reason that gravity is able to pull you down the hill when you are skiing verses when you are not is because of the design of your skis. Skis are designed to spread the weight or the force of the skier over a wide surface area. This wide surface area allows the skier not to sink into the snow. Skis are usually made of three main things these are fiberglass, a smooth kind of plastic, and metal. The bottom of the ski is made out of a very smooth plastic this causes very little friction and lets the skis slide on the snow. The edges of the skis are made of metal and the top of the skis are fiberglass.
There is one problem with the wider surface area of a ski this problem is increased friction. Often wax is applied to the bottom of the skis also to make them more smooth to minimize the friction. After a fresh coat of wax there is very little friction between the bottom of the ski and the surface of the snow. There are two things that a wax must do to reduce the friction between the ski and the snow. The wax must repel water and snow at cold temperatures, and the wax must adhere to the ski for a long time.
Friction is also a very important part of skiing. In skiing you need both a lot of friction and as little friction as possible. While going down the...