Experimental test setups and simulations in skiing mechanics
Abstract: Product testing and development are essential parts in sports and for the athletes in their quest to reach the podium. Manufacturers of sports equipment often use basic test methods which do not test the equipment in a sports specific way. Much of the equipment used by world-class athletes is chosen based only on subjective tests and the athletes’ feelings. One short term aim was therefore to develop test methods for objective tests of sports equipment that also tested the equipment in a sports specific way. Another aim was to integrate mechanics and simulations to enhance the understanding of the test results. The more long term aims are to contribute to increased theoretical knowledge regarding test methods for sports equipment and to contribute to the development of test methods to create new and better sports equipment. Experimental tests combined with simulations can give valuable information to improve the performance and safety of sports equipment. Three studies dealt with the issue of objective yet sport specific test methods for sports equipment. The main methodological advancement is the modification of established test methods together with conventional mechanics calculations. New test devices and methodologies are proposed for alpine ski helmets and cross-country ski poles. Suggestions are given for improved test setups as well as theoretical simulation are introduced for glide tests of skis. The results show how sport specific test methodologies together with theoretical calculations can improve the objectiveness and relevance when testing sports equipment. However, the collected and used data require high precision to obtain high accuracy in the simulations. High data accuracy can be an issue in field measurements but also due to manufacturers not disclosing key material data. Still, the used methods and calculations in this thesis produce relevant and reliable results which can be implemented to accurate evaluations of different sports equipment. Even though it has not been a first priority aim in this work, the results from the alpine helmet study have been used by helmet manufacturers to design new helmets with increased safety properties. This further show how an objective and sport specific test approach together with theoretical simulation can improve sports equipment and in the longer perspective, also the athletes’ performances.
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