Experimental test setups and simulations in skiing mechanics

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

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.