The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of the Fastest Human, Skiing

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. 1998 edition. The learning company 1997. "The fastest speed attained on skis is 129.827 miles per hour" 58.0388 m/s
Plueddem, Charles. The Mechanics of Speed Skiing. Popular Mechanics. February 1994. [Mirror] "The current world record is 145.1 mph, set by Frenchman Phillipe Goitchel in 1993 at Les Arc, France." 64.7 m/s
"The origin of speed skiing dates to 1898 when a Californian, Tommy Todd, allegedly zipped to 87 mph. However the first recorded official world record was set in 1932 when Italian skier Leo Gasperi was clocked at 89 mph by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in St. Moritz, Switzerland." 40 m/s
Philippe Billy, Ski de Vitesse, Speed Skiing. "Philippe Billy a world record holder (151.586 mph/243.902 kph) from Vars, France." 67.7650 m/s

Speed skiing is the fastest, most intense non-motorized sport in the world. Racers begin at the top of a hill that ranges from one and a half to three miles or longer. The entire race takes about 20 seconds. In fifteen seconds, speed reaches 62 m/s. Skiers maintain a tuck position while their bodies feel like they're punching a hole through the air. To maintain their position at such high speeds and to reduce friction and air resistance, skiers use specially designed equipment. The skis are extra wide, weight 11 kg, and are about 240 cm long compared to 200 cm for recreational skiing. The ski suits are skin tight and the helmets are custom fitted for optimum performance. Some helmets are designed with a fin at the top for increased stability and to allow the racer to steer by moving his head. According to the International Ski Federation (FIS), the starting point at the top of the hill must be chosen so that it will not produce speeds of over 63 m/s. The starting point is generally 300 meters to 400 meters above the first timing light. Skiers are able to reach 62 m/s in less than 400 meters. While racing downhill, skiers must try to avoid bumps and steep pitches. To do this, racers inspect the course before the race and pick the smoothest line downhill. While going at 62 m/s, braking can be a difficult task. So skiers must slowly untuck themselves until they come to a rest. At a speed of 45 m/s or less, however, skiers simply stand up and let the wind bring them to rest.

Igor Fridman -- 2000