Ski Jumping Aerodynamics

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Last summer we featured fluid dynamics in the Summer Olympics and there’s more to come for Sochi. Winter athletes like ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson are hard at work preparing, which can include time in wind tunnels, as shown here. There are two main diagnostics in tests like these: drag measurements and smoke visualization. The board Hendrickson stands on is connected to the tunnel’s force balance, which allows engineers to measure the differences in drag on her as she adjusts equipment and positions. This gives a macroscopic measure of drag reduction, and reduced drag makes the skier faster on the snow and lets her fly longer in the jump. The smoke wand provides a way to visualize local flow conditions to ensure flow remains attached around the athlete, which also reduces drag.  (Video credit: Red Bull/Outside Magazine; submitted by @YvesDubief)

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