To us, Olympic ski jumping is basically the same thing as becoming Superman for a few seconds. Watching ski jumpers take flight is an amazing sight to behold. And as one would imagine, being able to end up in the sky for just those mere seconds takes years of practice, massive skill, and a great deal of speed. But, um, how fast do ski jumpers go?
According to the Women’s Ski Jumping USA website, ski jumpers reach a speed of 60 mph on the in-run, or the slope on which the ski jumper takes off from.
While on the in-run, jumpers align their skis into grooves on the track. Their skis mustn’t touch the side walls of the grooves if the skier wants to keep friction at a minimum and reach top speed before take-off. When the jumper reaches the table, or take-off, they combine their speed, gravity, and 1.7 times their weight to push away from the table and gain air.
The Women’s Ski Jumping site states that a jumper is never more than 10 to 15 feet above the ground when in flight. Although that may not be very high for a skilled ski jumper, that’s quite an impressive (and terrifying) height for us scaredy-cats!
To help gain speed and altitude, a jumper’s skis are incredibly lightweight, and the shape of the skis is customized to be 145% of the jumper’s body height in centimeters.
If you like the sound of becoming a ski jumper, then you might have a lot of catching up to do. Ski jumpers usually begin training around ages 5 to 8. But hey — keep dreaming. Anything is possible.
Good luck to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic ski jumpers. Tell us how the Earth looks from up there when you come back down.