How much does it really mean that we do science in skiing?
A lot – for different reasons!
By skiing efficiently you decrease the risk of injuries, and of course any skiier that competes also want to be faster and this attracts more young people to the sport, both as competitors and for exercise. Speed puts alpine skiing on the map!
The following quoted from professor HC Holmberg:
Alpine skiing has been an Olympic event since the first Winter Games, 1936 and at the World Championships the skiers compete in four main events: slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill.
The duration of a single run and the average and maximal (avg/max) speed for these events are slalom (SL, 52 s, 54 km/h), giant slalom (GS, 77 s, 65/85 km/h), Super-G (SG, 93 s, 86/110 km/h), and downhill (DH, 121 s, 94/150 km/h), says Professor H-C Holmberg.
Substantial improvements in slope preparation, design of courses, equipment, and the skills have all helped Alpine skiing attain its present significance. Improved snow preparation has resulted in harder surfaces and improved equipment allows a more direct interaction between the skier and snow. At the same time, courses have become more challenging, with technical disciplines requiring more pronounced patterns of loading and unloading, with greater ground reaction forces and peaks as high as 5 x body weight.
The wide variety of terrain, slopes, gate setups and snow conditions involved requires skiers to continuously adapt, alternating between carving and skidding turning techniques. The technical complexity places a premium on minimizing energy dissipation, employing strategies and ski equipment that minimize ski-snow friction and aerodynamic drag. Access to multiple split times along the racing course, in combination with analysis of the trajectory and speed provide information that can be utilized to enhance performance. Although the biomechanics of alpine skiing have significantly improved, several questions concerning optimization of skiers’ performance remain to be investigated.
In addition, skiers have adapted their training to meet the new physiological and biomechanical demands. In the manuscript “The Training of Olympic Alpine Ski Racers” we describe how the elite skiers from four of the major alpine ski racing nations prepared for the Olympic Games in South Korea in 2018.
Olympic alpine skiers typically train and compete on snow for 130–150 days each year. Depending on the time of year, SL training consists of 2–12 runs with 40–60 turns (each lasting about 0.8 s) for a total of 100–700 changes in direction during a session. Each of these changes involves a sharp increase in ground reaction force, which can be as high as 5 times body weight (the highest for all skiing disciplines). In comparison, GS training consists of 2–12 runs with 25–50 turns (each lasting about 1.4 s) resulting in a total of 50–600 changes in direction, each involving maximal ground reaction forces of approximately 3.2 times BW, says Associate Professor Mathias Gilgien.
Alpine ski racing requires mastery of a broad spectrum of physical, technical, mental, and social skills. The publication provide unique information and describes the athletes typical exercise programs with respect to physical conditioning, ski training and periodization, based on interviews with the coaching staff. Moreover, we describe how elite alpine skiers and teams deal with the multifactorial nature of the training required and on the basis of the findings propose how training for alpine ski racing might be further improved.
Professor H-C Holmberg at Mid Sweden University in Östersund, Sweden;
Associate professor Mathias Gilgien at Norwegian Schoold for Sports in Oslo;
Professor Matej Supej at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia;
1. Gilgien M, Reid R, Raschner C, Supej M and Holmberg H-C. The Training of Olympic Alpine Ski Racers. Frontiers in Physiology Feb 2019; https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2018.01772/full
2. Supej M, Holmberg H-C, Recent Kinematic and Kinetic Advances in Olympic Alpine Skiing: Pyeongchang and Beyond, Frontiers in Physiology Dec 2018; https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.00111/abstract