Wind and fairness in ski jumping: A computer modelling analysis

J Biomech. 2018 Jun 25:75:147-153. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2018.05.001. Epub 2018 May 24.


Wind is closely associated with the discussion of fairness in ski jumping. To counter-act its influence on the jump length, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has introduced a wind compensation approach. We applied three differently accurate computer models of the flight phase with wind (M1, M2, and M3) to study the jump length effects of various wind scenarios. The previously used model M1 is accurate for wind blowing in direction of the flight path, but inaccuracies are to be expected for wind directions deviating from the tangent to the flight path. M2 considers the change of airflow direction, but it does not consider the associated change in the angle of attack of the skis which additionally modifies drag and lift area time functions. M3 predicts the length effect for all wind directions within the plane of the flight trajectory without any mathematical simplification. Prediction errors of M3 are determined only by the quality of the input data: wind velocity, drag and lift area functions, take-off velocity, and weight. For comparing the three models, drag and lift area functions of an optimized reference jump were used. Results obtained with M2, which is much easier to handle than M3, did not deviate noticeably when compared to predictions of the reference model M3. Therefore, we suggest to use M2 in future applications. A comparison of M2 predictions with the FIS wind compensation system showed substantial discrepancies, for instance: in the first flight phase, tailwind can increase jump length, and headwind can decrease it; this is opposite of what had been anticipated before and is not considered in the current wind compensation system in ski jumping.

Keywords: Computer simulation; Optimal control; Ski flying; Sport aerodynamics; Wind compensation.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Skiing*
  • Wind*