Lynchburg Professor Studying the Science of Olympic Sports - abc27 WHTM

Lynchburg Professor Studying the Science of Olympic Sports


Lynchburg, VA - Sports and science go hand in hand. For Olympic athletes, luck has very little to do with securing their spot on the podium.

From the clothing of the Winter Olympians to their techniques, there are many physical forces at work during an event.

Most of us just remember the perfect landing, but it is the science behind it all that makes it possible.

A professor at Lynchburg College is studying it all, from the running start to the final turn, every move is carefully executed.

With her arms back and feet locked, Olympic slider Noelle Pikus travels at speeds of around 80 miles per hour.

"And notice her arms are going to be tucked in tight and she is going to keep as low of a profile as she can," Lynchburg College Physics professor John Eric Goff said.

Olympic athletes like Pikus-Pace continue to push the limits of the laws of Physics.

Goff is an expert in the physics of sports.

In ski jumping, for example, skiers launch off the ramp at around 60 miles an hour, soar through the air, and land with grace.

"So they've all got the same amount of height build up and when they come down the hill they are going to try to build up as much speed as possible now fighting them down the hill is air drag," Goff said. "And their arms will go way back like this to try to go as aerodynamic as they can going down the hill"

Style is also important.

Skiers began spreading their skis into the V-style about 30 years ago.

"By spreading the skis out into a V shape they get about 30 percent more lift this way," Goff explained.

The slightest move can be the difference between winning a medal or going home empty handed.

"They don't show up at Sochi and see this course for the first time, they know every turn every which way it is going to go," Goff continued.

Goff further analyzes the physics of ski jumping and other sports in his book Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports.

It is sold online and in stores, so you can check it out.

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