How It Works: Science and Technology - Vol. 15

By Wendy Horobin | Go to book overview

Ski and Snowboard

Snowboarding has
gradually grown in
popularity since the
1970s. As with a ski, the
midlength waist of the
board is its narrowest
point. The shovel is the
widest point, and the
heel is almost as wide.

Skiing developed in northern Europe as a means of traversing snow more rapidly than on foot. Traditional skis for cross-country skiing were made of solid wood and were up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) in length—much longer than those of today. They were best suited to straight running over uncrowded, mainly soft snow. Such skis had wooden soles that would be waxed daily with a hot iron. If they had metal edges at all, they were limited to the most wearing parts; even after World War II, steel edges were bought separately in strips and screwed to the wooden skis.

The decade after World War II saw a revolution in Alpine (downhill) skiing not only in the numbers participating but also in technique. In particular, the craze for constant turning led to the creation of pistes (tracks) and bumps (now called moguls) on the steeper slopes. Traditional wooden skis were too flexible for the changed practices, and solid wood gave way first to wooden laminations, then to metal, and in the early 1960s, to polymeric materials. Longer wooden skis continue to be popular for crosscountry rather than for fast downhill skiing.

Snowboarding—a hybrid between surfing and skiing—originated in the 1970s. Snowboarders use a wide single board rather than slender twin skis, and they stand sideways to the direction of motion. Nevertheless, the designs of skis and snowboards have much in common.


Design

Skis and snowboards have approximate hourglass profiles viewed from above; the following description of a ski applies to snowboards, but a snowboard is considerably wider. From the tip, the body of a ski curves down and broadens to a shoulder before tapering back gradually to the waist—the narrowest part and the approximate midpoint of the length. The part of the ski between the tip and the waist is called the forebody, and it resembles a rounded shovel. Behind the waist, the afterbody widens out to the heel— the second widest point after the shoulder. The tail curves up from the heel and tapers back.

Side cut. The side cut, or side camber, is the curve of the ski side between the shovel, waist, and heel. During a turn, the skier leans into the turn, and the tip and heel rise toward the skier, forming a curved trace in the snow. The side cut ensures that the ski digs evenly into the snow during this maneuver, so the profile of the side cut is a determining factor in turning performance.

Camber. The camber, or arch, of a ski is the downward curve of the tip and heel from the waist; it can be clearly seen when the running surfaces of two skis are put together. The purpose of the camber is to spread the skier’s weight along the length of the ski, since that weight would be concentrated at the waist of a camberless ski. The camber also provides a springboard effect to assist in unweighting (lifting) the skis for turning. Too much camber makes turning hard work; too little will lead to adhesion loss at the tip and heel.

Flex pattern. The thickest and least flexible part of a ski is the waist; thickness diminishes toward the tip to provide fore flex and to the heel to provide aft flex. The combination of fore flex and aft flex of a given ski design is called its flex pattern. A ski may be flexible or stiff overall, or it may be soft in front and stiff behind, for example. Softer skis are easier to turn and better for light skiers; stifter skis are better for straight running

-2084-

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How It Works: Science and Technology - Vol. 15
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • How It Works® Science and Technology 2017
  • Title Page 2019
  • Contents 2020
  • Salvage, Marine 2021
  • Satellite, Artificial 2024
  • Schlieren Techniques 2030
  • Screw Manufacture 2032
  • Seaplane and Amphibian 2035
  • Sea Rescue 2038
  • Security System 2042
  • Seismology 2046
  • Self-Righting Boat 2050
  • Semiconductor 2052
  • Servomechanism 2055
  • Sewing Machine 2058
  • Sextant 2062
  • Sheet Metal 2064
  • Ship 2067
  • Shutter 2074
  • Silicon 2076
  • Silicone 2078
  • Silver 2079
  • Sine Wave 2081
  • Siphon 2083
  • Ski and Snowboard 2084
  • Skin 2087
  • Skyscraper 2090
  • Slaughterhouse 2096
  • Sleep 2099
  • Smell and Taste 2103
  • Soap Manufacture 2107
  • Soft-Drink Dispenser 2109
  • Soil Research 2110
  • Solar Energy 2114
  • Solar System 2118
  • Solenoid 2124
  • Sonar 2126
  • Sorption 2129
  • Sound 2131
  • Sound Effects and Sampling 2136
  • Sound Mixing 2138
  • Soundproofing 2140
  • Sound Reproduction 2142
  • Soundtrack 2146
  • Space Debris 2150
  • Space Photography 2152
  • Space Probe 2156
  • Index i
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