Mechanics of flight in ski jumping: Aerodynamic stability in pitch

P. Marques, P. Grimshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines aerodynamic stability in pitch in ski jumping. Static stability implies automatic return to trimmed flight after a sudden disturbance and dynamic stability involves gradual damping of oscillatory motion. Both have implications for flight control and safety. A 3-D inertia model of a ski jumper and the Planica K185 jumping hill profile were constructed using computer-aided design. Inertia, jump performance, and aerodynamic efficiency and stability parameters were computed for variations in V-style posture using mathematical modeling. Pitching moment at a 0° angle of attack was positive, and the condition dM/dα<0 at equilibrium was satisfied, indicating that the athlete is inherently stable. Enhanced flight posture consists of a ski-opening angle of 30° and a forward-leaning angle of 10°. This is a high-lift configuration with a large static margin that triggers a steep dM/dα slope and high oscillatory frequency upon deviations from trimmed attitude. Mechanisms of stability in pitch are proposed, founded upon theoretical aerodynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-31
JournalSports Technology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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