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.
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