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# Ski engineering article

Here's a pretty interesting article, at least for the layman, on aspects of ski design. I doubt that there's anything new in here for the more science-oriented Bears, but for those of us whose physics knowledge is based on watching 3-2-1 Contact reruns it's pretty informative.
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/26...ct_turn+.shtml
Interesting, if you add in the torsional characteristics, various lengths and different snow conditions, the design equations must be enormously complex. I wonder when we'll start getting ceramic edges.
Quote:
 Originally posted by The Cunning Linguist:Here's a pretty interesting article, at least for the layman, on aspects of ski design. I doubt that there's anything new in here for the more science-oriented Bears, but for those of us whose physics knowledge is based on watching 3-2-1 Contact reruns it's pretty informative. ...
CL - Thanks for the link. If nothing else, its nice to see a major newspaper carrying an article about our sport.

Personally, I found the article a fun read. My only gripe with it is that the author has reproduced Howe's long standing, but entirely unsupported claim of novelty:

>... But it is becoming less and less so, as geometry, mathematics and physics explain what Howe has come to believe is the basic principle of ski design: There is but one one true continuous, balanced, carved turn radius for continued arc-to-arc carving for any given hill angle, skier weight, and ski shape. This principle is new and ...

Yes, if you make a couple of assumptions and include edge angle into the above list of parameters, you can come up with a simple formula for the carved turn radius. The problem is that people have known this simple formula for decades, and to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't added anything to it, so the above statement smacks of serious self aggrandizement. I can think of about a half dozen people right here on Epic that could probably write down (or at least look up) the same formula.

One problem I have with claims of unique knowledge of this sort is that it makes it appear to the general public that there is only one way to arrive at a "correct" ski design, and he's the guy to see. Well, this not only contradicts what is implied by the entire remainder of the article, but also the remaining complicated mechanics of the ski and snow that he doesn't address (eg, torsional statics and dynamics, deformation of the snow, etc.), common sense, and the large number of obviously fine alternatives available from other mfgrs. As was said elsewhere in the article, there are many compromises that are always present in every ski design, and each set is reflected in differences in performance that you may or may not personally like.

Not withstanding all of the above, its very possible that Howe has sufficient "art" that he has put together a very nice ski (he has named it The Claw ), and I would love to demo a pair and rank them on how they perform, not what he says. Over the years, I've been able to find only two people (unrelated to his operation) who have actually been on a pair, and my impression from talking to them is that while his overall design of short, highly damped, & relatively deep sidecut may have been novel a few years ago, it is not at all unique today. In fact, if I remember his story correctly, I believe Howe is or has sued some of the larger ski mfgrs for infringement of one of his patents. The patents themselves also make for an interesting read, and if anyone is interested, I can dig up the exact references. My take on this is that simultaneous parallel invention happens more often that you might think, and unfortunately, he was the smaller fish.

Anyway, that's more than enough stream-of-consciousness rambling on the subject. CL - thanks again for the link to the newspaper article.

Tom / PM

PS - The older version of Howe's book, Skiing Mechanics , has been out of print but since it appears he has a new version available, it probably behoves me to pick up a copy and check it out. OTOH, I would be very surprised if it contained anything not in "the bible", ie, The Physics of Skiing .

[ September 24, 2002, 09:27 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
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