Optimization of the flight technique in ski jumping: The influence of wind

J Biomech. 2019 May 9:88:190-193. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2019.03.023. Epub 2019 Mar 22.


Ski jumping performance is strongly affected by wind. Flight technique optimization for maximizing jump length is a highly complex motor-control task that also depends on the wind. Pontryagin's minimum principle was used in this study to gain a better understanding on how wind influences flight technique optimization. Optimum time courses of the angle of attack α of the skis and of the body-to-ski angle β were computed for seven realistic wind scenarios on the large hill and on the flying hill. The optimum values of α were smaller at headwind, and larger at tailwind when compared to the optimum time course at calm wind. The optimum values of β were the smallest possible ones at the given flight technique constraints, except for the last part of the flight. Optimum adjustments of α increased the jump lengths between 0 and 1.8 m on the large hill, and between 0 and 6.4 m on the flying hill. Maximum jump length increases were achieved at the highest headwind speed. Even larger jump length effects can be achieved by using smaller β-angles, which might be possible in headwind conditions, but this is associated with increased problems to keep the flight stable.

Keywords: Computer simulation; Optimal control; Ski flying; Sport aerodynamics; Winter sports.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Skiing / physiology*
  • Wind*