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Caroline Barelle, Anne Ruby and Michel Tavernier

Aerodynamic properties are one of the factors that determine speed performance in Alpine skiing. Many studies have examined the consequences of this factor in downhill skiing, and the impact of postural modifications on speed is now well established. To date, only wind tunnel tests have enabled one to measure aerodynamic drag values (a major component of the aerodynamic force in Alpine skiing). Yet such tests are incompatible with the constraints of a regular and accurate follow-up of training programs. The present study proposes an experimental model that permits one to determine a skier's aerodynamic drag coefficient (SCx) based on posture. Experimental SCx measurements made in a wind tunnel are matched with the skier's postural parameters. The accuracy of the model was determined by comparing calculated drag values with measurements observed in a wind tunnel for different postures. For postures corresponding to an optimal aerodynamic penetration (speed position), the uncertainty was 13%. Although this model does not permit an accurate comparison between two skiers, it does satisfactorily account for variations observed in the aerodynamic drag of the same skier in different postures. During Alpine ski training sessions and races, this model may help coaches assess the gain or loss in time induced by modifications in aerodynamic drag corresponding to different postures. It may also be used in other sports to help determine whether the aerodynamic force has a significant impact on performance.

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Colin Higgs

A computer model was developed of the aerodynamic drag forces acting to slow down a wheelchair. The model calculated drag forces over a range of wheeling speeds between 2 and 20 m/sec, and for wind conditions over the same range of speeds with wind direction varied between 0° (headwind) and 180° (tailwind). The computer model suggests that the large lateral area of a wheelchair adds considerably to the retarding drag forces at relative wind angles between 0 and 90°. It further suggests that three-wheeled wheelchairs have a considerable aerodynamic advantage over four-wheeled wheelchairs for a wide range of wind speeds and directions. In straight line races, the four-wheeled wheelchair has a slight aerodynamic advantage when the relative wind angle exceeds 90°, but under other speed and wind conditions in this study the three-wheeled wheelchair was more efficient.

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James C. Martin, Douglas L. Milliken, John E. Cobb, Kevin L. McFadden and Andrew R. Coggan

This investigation sought to determine if cycling power could be accurately modeled. A mathematical model of cycling power was derived, and values for each model parameter were determined. A bicycle-mounted power measurement system was validated by comparison with a laboratory ergometer. Power was measured during road cycling, and the measured values were compared with the values predicted by the model. The measured values for power were highly correlated (R 2 = .97) with, and were not different than, the modeled values. The standard error between the modeled and measured power (2.7 W) was very small. The model was also used to estimate the effects of changes in several model parameters on cycling velocity. Over the range of parameter values evaluated, velocity varied linearly (R 2 > .99). The results demonstrated that cycling power can be accurately predicted by a mathematical model.

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LeRoy W. Alaways, Sean P. Mish and Mont Hubbard

Pitched-baseball trajectories were measured in three dimensions during competitions at the 1996 Summer Olympic games using two high-speed video cameras and standard DLT techniques. A dynamic model of baseball flight including aerodynamic drag and Magnus lift forces was used to simulate trajectories. This simulation together with the measured trajectory position data constituted the components of an estimation scheme to determine 8 of the 9 release conditions (3 components each of velocity, position, and angular velocity) as well as the mean drag coefficient CD and terminal conditions at home plate. The average pitch loses 5% of its initial velocity during flight. The dependence of estimated drag coefficient on Reynolds number hints at the possibility of the drag crisis occurring in pitched baseballs. Such data may be used to quantify a pitcher’s performance (including fastball speed and amount of curve-ball break) and its improvement or degradation over time. It may also be used to understand the effects of release parameters on baseball trajectories.