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Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Michael Morlock and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

Performance in bobsled and luge events is influenced by several environmental, material/equipment, and team-related factors. This study concentrated on the influences of equipment and athlete on overall performance and compared the luge, 2-man bobsled, and 4-man bobsled competitions at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. Start time and overall acceleration in the analyzed straight section showed significant correlations with the final time. It was concluded that for the top teams in bobsled and luge, fast start time and high speed at the end of the start section were prerequisites for an excellent overall performance. Driving capacities in the most difficult sections of the track were more statistically important among the top 15 competitors, especially in the luge. The influence of the runners could not be identified in either bobsled or luge competitions.

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Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Phillip J. Cheetham, Yilmaz Alp and Diamantis Arampatzis

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, 70 dismounts and release-regrasp movements on the high bar were selected from films gathered with three synchronized cameras during the compulsory and the optional men's high bar competition. The skills were classified into 10 groups depending on the direction of rotation, body configuration, and flight projection. Kinematic variables were used to profile the movement groups. Statistically significant differences between the groups were identified by ANOVA. Three groups with significant differences in terms of the maximum values and the locations of the maxima could be differentiated. These were (a) backward rotating swings with an increase of rotation (e.g., overgrip giant swing—triple backward tuck somersault dismount), (b) backward rotating swings with a change of the direction of rotation (e.g., overgrip giant—Tkatchov straddle), and (c) forward rotating swings with an increase or a decrease of rotation (e.g., undergrip giant swing—Jaeger somersault).

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Maurice R. Yeadon

At the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, four double somersault dismounts with one twist and four double somersault dismounts with two twists were filmed using two 16 mm cameras during the men's horizontal bar competitions. Contributions to tilt angle reached at the midtwist position, determined using computer simulations based on modifications of the data obtained from film, were used as measures of the twisting potential of various techniques. The amount of tilt produced was greater when total twist was greater and when the body was tucked rather than straight. The twisting techniques used varied with the timing of the twist within the two somersaults. Contact contributions were larger when there was more twist in the first somersault. When there was little or no twist in the first somersault, the major contribution came from aerial techniques that comprised mainly arm movements and asymmetrical hip movements in the flight phase.

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Richard C. Nelson, Ted S. Gross and Glenn M. Street

The purpose of this report was to provide a model analysis of biomechanical films taken during the women's gymnastic vaulting events of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Although a majority of the optional vaults were filmed, only the 16 vaults performed by the competitors in the individual championships were examined. The analysis included calculations of temporal, spatial, and velocity parameters as the gymnast's center of mass moved through four phases of the vault. The phases were identified as Reuther board contact, prehorse flight, horse contact, and posthorse flight. A representative profile of a female gymnast competing in the Games was compiled based on these parameters. This profile indicated that the gymnasts were much smaller than the average population, efficient in the use of the Reuther board and the horse to reach and maintain CM velocities necessary to complete the vault, and agile enough to perform complex airborne rotations during an average posthorse flight duration of .80s.

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Mero Antti, Paavo V. Komi, Tapio Korjus, Enrique Navarro and Robert J. Gregor

This study investigated body segment contributions to javelin throwing during the last thrust phases. A 3-D analysis was performed on male and female javelin throwers during the finals of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. The subjects were videotaped from the right sight of the throwing area by two NAC high-speed cameras operating at 100 frames per second. Both men’s and women’s grip of javelin and body center of mass displayed a curved pathway to the right from the left (bracing) foot during the final foot contact. The position of the body center of mass decreased at the beginning of the final foot contact, but after the decrease period it began to increase. Simultaneously with the increase, the peak joint center speeds occurred in a proper sequence from proximal to distal segments and finally to the javelin at release. Release speed correlated significantly with throwing distance in both male and females.

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Ruud W. de Boer and Kim L. Nilsen

The 1988 Winter Olympic Games provided a unique opportunity to study large numbers of optimally prepared speed skaters during ideal ice and weather conditions for all the competitors (indoor Olympic Oval in Calgary). In this study a kinematic analysis was conducted of the gliding and push-off technique during the Men’s and Ladies' 1,500-m and 5,000-m races. Statistical analysis showed that factors such as trunk position, preextension knee angle, and peak knee and hip angular velocities failed to correlate with mean lap speed. Within such a homogeneous group of elite athletes it was found that the higher work per stroke of the faster skaters was correlated to a longer gliding phase and a more horizontally directed push-off. All skaters showed plantar flexion at the end of the stroke, which is undesirable and indicates the complex nature of the gliding and push-off technique in speed skating.

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Yoshiaki Takei

This study compared the techniques used by elite male gymnasts in performing blocking or pushoff against the horse and postflight in the handspring and salto forward tucked vault. Forty-one American gymnasts were compared with 51 Olympic gymnasts on the mechanical factors governing the blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout in postflight. A 16-mm high-speed camera recorded the performance of the gymnasts during the 1986 USA Gymnastics Championships and the 1988 Olympic Games. The results indicated that Olympic gymnasts assumed the tightest tuck position significantly nearer the peak of the parabolic path of CG and thus achieved significantly greater height of CG at the tightest tuck position during the somersault than did the U.S. gymnasts. The superiority of body control by the former after the tightest tuck to landing was evidenced by significantly longer time, larger horizontal and angular distances, greater average moment of inertia, and smaller angular velocity.

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Ruud W. de Boer and Kim L. Nilsen

The mechanics of speed skating the curves is described in a mathematical model, using the sideward push-off characteristics of the propulsion and the cyclic nature of the movement. Theoretical and experimental relations between mechanical work per stroke, stroke frequency, and speed were studied with Olympic speed skaters. High-speed film and video measurements collected at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary provided the basic experimental data. Because of the ideal external conditions (indoor Olympic Oval) and the large numbers of optimally prepared specialists participating, unique scientific results on technical aspects of speed skating could be obtained. Statistical analysis and theoretical considerations showed that stroke frequency can be judged as the major regulator of speed. Unexpectedly, it was not possible to detect changes in speed within one lap.

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Rosa M. Angulo-Kinzler, Stephen B. Kinzler, Xavier Balius, Carles Turro, Josep M. Caubet, Josep Escoda and J. Antoni Prat

This study explains the general aspects of the biomechanics of the pole vault and presents a 3D analysis of the best official performances of the top 8 pole vaulters at the 1992 summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. Two time code synchronized S-VHS video cameras operating at 50 Hz were used. All vaulters showed a reduced last stride and a low CM during the penultimate foot support. Great horizontal velocity at takeoff, high grip, and well timed angular momentum serve as good indicators of a jumper's performance. An early positioning of the hips parallel to the bar can be very beneficial, as can a close placement of the CM to the bar at the time of pole release. Finally, an advantageous bar clearance technique used by the winning Unified Team vaulters is noted.

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Antonio Dal Monte, L.M. Leonardi, C. Menchinelli and C. Marini

Advanced technology and biomechanics were applied in the development of a new bicycle. Factors investigated included the position of the cyclist, geometry of the bicycle, transmission system, and the drag characteristics. Several wind tunnel tests were conducted to determine the minimum drag conditions for bicycle configurations and positions of the athlete. The results showed a clear advantage for nonspoked disc wheels of high composite material without discontinuity between the tire and the wheel. The conventional bicycle frame was redesigned and the optimum body position of the cyclist was determined. These findings were utilized in the development of the bicycle ridden by Francesco Moser in establishing a new 1-hour world record in 1984, and also in aiding the gold-medal-winning 4 × 100 km Italian team in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.