An important question in alpine skiing is how to determine characteristics of well-performed ski turns, an issue that has become more crucial with the arrival of new carving skis. This article introduces a new method for estimating the quality of skiing at each point of observation based on mechanical energy behavior that can be measured using established motion analysis techniques. It can be used for single-or multiple-skier analyses for evaluation of skiing technique as well as racing tactics. An illustration of its use is shown by analyzing 16 top-level racers using a 3-D kinematical system and video recorded during an alpine ski world cup race. Based on energy behavior of several racers, it is demonstrated that the most direct line with shortest radius of turn is not necessarily the most effective strategy in contrast to what some coaches believe.
Matej Supej and Hans-Christer Holmberg
This study examined whether gate setup and turn radii influence energy dissipation in slalom skiing. 3D kinematical measurements were performed over two runs on the same slope in a WC slalom competition with two different gate setups: 1) open gates (OG) and 2) open gates with a delayed gate (DG). Using the arithmetic mean of the skis’ turn radii (R AMS) the slalom turns were divided into 1) initiation phase (R AMS > 15m) and steering phase (R AMS < 15m). The results show differences between OG and DG regarding: 1) the absolute center of gravity’s (CG) velocity, 2) absolute acceleration, 3) CG turn radii and R AMS, 4) ground reaction forces (F) and 5) energy dissipation during skiing (all p < .05). In both gate setups the highest F and the highest energy dissipation were present in the steering phase, whereas the correlation between R AMS and energy dissipation was low (OG: r = .364 and DG: r = .214, both p < .001). In summary, compared with plain open gates, an additional delayed gate prolonged the turn radii and decreased energy dissipation in the beginning of the initiation phase, despite the fact that the relative frequency of occurrence of the highest energy dissipation was higher in DG.
Matej Supej, Kim Hébert-Losier, and Hans-Christer Holmberg
Numerous environmental factors can affect alpine-ski-racing performance, including the steepness of the slope. However, little research has focused on this factor. Accordingly, the authors’ aim was to determine the impact of the steepness of the slope on the biomechanics of World Cup slalom ski racers.
The authors collected 3-dimensional kinematic data during a World Cup race from 10 male slalom skiers throughout turns performed on a relatively flat (19.8°) and steep (25.2°) slope under otherwise similar course conditions.
Kinematic data revealed differences between the 2 slopes regarding the turn radii of the skis and center of gravity, velocity, acceleration, and differential specific mechanical energy (all P < .001). Ground-reaction forces (GRFs) also tended toward differences (P = .06). Examining the time-course behaviors of variables during turn cycles indicated that steeper slopes were associated with slower velocities but greater accelerations during turn initiation, narrower turns with peak GRFs concentrated at the midpoint of steering, more pronounced lateral angulations of the knees and hips at the start of steering that later became less pronounced, and overall slower turns that involved deceleration at completion. Consequently, distinct energy-dissipation-patterns were apparent on the 2 slope inclines, with greater pregate and lesser postgate dissipation on the steeper slope. The steepness of the slope also affected the relationships between mechanical skiing variables.
The findings suggest that specific considerations during training and preparation would benefit the race performance of slalom skiers on courses involving sections of varying steepness.
Øyvind Sandbakk, Silvana Bucher Sandbakk, Matej Supej, and Hans-Christer Holmberg
This study examined the influence of turn radius on velocity and energy profiles when skidding and step turning during more and less effective downhill turns while cross-country skiing. Thirteen elite female cross-country skiers performed single turns with a 9- or 12-m radius using the skidding technique and a 12- or 15-m radius with step turning. Mechanical parameters were monitored using a real-time kinematic Global Navigation Satellite System and video analysis. Step turning was more effective during all phases of a turn, leading to higher velocities than skidding (P < .05). With both techniques, a greater radius was associated with higher velocity (P < .05), but the quality of turning, as assessed on the basis of energy characteristics, was the same. More effective skidding turns involved more pronounced deceleration early in the turn and maintenance of higher velocity thereafter, while more effective step turning involved lower energy dissipation during the latter half of the turn. In conclusion, the single-turn analysis employed here reveals differences in the various techniques chosen by elite cross-country skiers when executing downhill turns of varying radii and can be used to assess the quality of such turns.