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Sparks a-flyin'

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Epic,

Friday afternoon I was skiing with my 6 year old daughter at Hillberg Ski Area and observed what appeared to be sparks or lights dancing around her skies in front of her boot a few times. It was snowing lightly, moderately dark (one of the lift lights was out where I saw it), and I was wearing goggles. I had also just waxed her skis earlier that day. The "sparks" appeared mostly when she was heavily engaging a ski (wedge) on a downhill run or otherwise trying to slow down rapidly.

I also thought I saw this on an adult's skis after he landed a jump off a short kicker. I was riding the lift watching them at that time and saw the "sparks" when he landed.

We have had a foot or more of fresh snow in the last few days, and the slope hadn't been groomed (groomer broke down; slope just skier / boarder packed). It was actually tough to ski on where the slope angle was too low...

So -- with all that fresh snow over a manmade base, I'm removing hitting rocks or other metal-on-edges causes for these "sparks." I'm wondering if this is static electricity build-up and release on somewhat dry snow? Or just my eyes playing tricks?

Has anyone observed anything like this before? Or should I call the Abducted-By-Aliens/Saw-A-UFO hotline?

Cheers!
post #2 of 20
hmmmm....most likely a rock was hit...that static thing seems highly unlikely...
post #3 of 20
I hope others respond to this. Your post awakened deeply embedded memories I have from about 30 yrs ago seeing something similar on the slopes. Maybe some of the same friction-related science addressed in this article could explain it??
http://www.newsday.com/news/health/n...5140470.column
post #4 of 20
I'm going to vote for wax-impregnated water drops reflecting the light, combined with refraction and reflection of the particular size droplets causing the interference pattern to amplify certain wavelengths (think of the sheen of gas/oil on water).
post #5 of 20
Static electricity 'flashes' under the skis are fairly common in very dry snow/air. The flash is the same distinctive static spark you'd see lifting a wool blanket off the bed at night - not the yellow flash of hitting a rock.
post #6 of 20
I think Dad had a little too much Holiday cheer. No not really. The Ambient Tempreture must of been in the single digits. Everyone has heard Snow squeeking under their feet from crystals breaking. I'm thinking it must run along these lines. However, the light emitting part does have me scratching my head. Interesting Meteorlogical phenomena and very cool.
post #7 of 20
Hope you weren´t feeling faint or whoozy at the time, sign of a heart attack....
post #8 of 20
You people are out to lunch!
They were obviously snowflies which had been resting on the snow.

"When they alight, they alight", as the saying goes.

Same idea as fireflies, but these cute little guys live in the snow. First they're snow-worms, which also glow but don't fly. Then they become snowflies.

You can see them in the cold and darkened snowy forest sometimes, or around isolated farms.

Get a tomten to show you, otherwise you could be out there for years and never see any.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
HA! The responses have been entertaining, and I'm pleased to see that not everything thinks I was skiing under the influence. It was, indeed, interesting to see the sparks / snowflies / wintergreen crystals, or whatever they were. A different kind of "northern lights," at least...

Merry Christmas to all. Hope you get some turns in this holiday season.

Best wishes,
post #10 of 20
The only time I've ever seen sparks on the hill is from hitting rocks/little pebbles under the snow. Interesting.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by trochilids View Post
Epic,

Friday afternoon I was skiing with my 6 year old daughter at Hillberg Ski Area and observed what appeared to be sparks or lights dancing around her skies in front of her boot a few times. It was snowing lightly, moderately dark (one of the lift lights was out where I saw it), and I was wearing goggles. I had also just waxed her skis earlier that day. The "sparks" appeared mostly when she was heavily engaging a ski (wedge) on a downhill run or otherwise trying to slow down rapidly.

I also thought I saw this on an adult's skis after he landed a jump off a short kicker. I was riding the lift watching them at that time and saw the "sparks" when he landed.

We have had a foot or more of fresh snow in the last few days, and the slope hadn't been groomed (groomer broke down; slope just skier / boarder packed). It was actually tough to ski on where the slope angle was too low...

So -- with all that fresh snow over a manmade base, I'm removing hitting rocks or other metal-on-edges causes for these "sparks." I'm wondering if this is static electricity build-up and release on somewhat dry snow? Or just my eyes playing tricks?

Has anyone observed anything like this before? Or should I call the Abducted-By-Aliens/Saw-A-UFO hotline?

Cheers!
We night ski alot and I've seen what looked like sparks often. I always assumed it was because of a small rock but after reading some of these post I guess there could be another reason for it. I've seen it in wet slushy conditions as well as in dry snow. I'll have to check back in to see what other folks have to say about this.
post #12 of 20

Static Electricity

Now you know why manufacturers make graphite bases and waxes.
post #13 of 20
Very strange, I've seen the same thing tonight. Snowboarder jumped from very small hop, maybe 1 feet in the air and there was a spark in front of his front boot on the landing. I thought I just imagined it untill I see this topic.
It was not cold, 28F, calm air, good visibility, a lot of fresh and fluffy snow. I'm 99% certain it was not a rock, maybe some slow flying off his boots and reflecting in the light, I do not know, but it was there.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ahhhh. The mystery deepens, and the number of converts grows...! We'll start a recovery group at the next ESA...
post #15 of 20
Hmmm lets see.. Edge + rock = spark.. very likely...

The other charge, discharge aspect though.. Your ski slope is essentially earth(ground) as the conductivity of snow would be prety good one would imagine (impure water is a better conductor than pure water). So your skis stay essentially grounded the whole time till you launch off a kicker. Its possible you could accumulate enough charge in the base/edges to cause a spark when you land but somehow it seems to me that there is very little friction there to cause this charge buildup in that short of a time..

So I think its a rock ..
post #16 of 20
Am I going to have to tell you again?
post #17 of 20
I've seen the snow flies. I discovered them here, in japan. When i started skiing here, I started seeing flies on the ground while traversing or whatever. I always thought it was strange to see an insect sitting on feet of snow. but I have never seen them light up.

I have seen sparks on several occasions. Minnesota, NZ nutcrackers. Sparks are pretty obvious when they're seen. but the light in the sky that disappeared one day... now that still boggles me, honestly.
post #18 of 20
This thread takes me back.
When I was young, they had night skiing at Eldora (dunno if they still do).
It could be pretty sketchy if the wind had been scouring the snow for awhile.
All over the hill, you could see sparks flying as kids hit rocks.
Hadn't thought about that in awhile.
post #19 of 20
Oldschool.. I stand corrected ..
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by coug View Post
...So I think its a rock ..
Can't say what was seen, and yes rocks can make sparks, but trust me in that static sparks under skis are all too real.
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