How Do Skiers Win Races?

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Winning an alpine skiing race can come down to a tiny margin, so the skiers have to make sure they prepare their skis just right!
Hosted by: Olivia Gordon
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Sources:
https://the-raceplace.com/pages/ski-wax-faqs
https://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov/earth/88Mod11Prob1.pdf
https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/what-are-snow-ratios/4786333
http://fasterskier.com/fsarticle/swix-a-perfect-wax-for-every-condition/
Images:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alpine_skiing_at_the_1980_Winter_Olympics.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Winter_ski_wax_-_Fort_Devens_Museum_-_DSC07132.JPG
Caption:
[music]. the 2018 winter olympics is bringing . together top athletes from 89 nations . and alpine skiing is one of its . signature sports all athletes do what . they can to get an edge but for alpine . skiers even the tiniest edge counts . because these races can be won by 1/100 . of a second and sometimes it all comes . down to the right wax to maximize their . speed skiers want to have as little . friction as possible between their skis . and the surface their skiing on ski wax . which looks feels and melts a lot like . candle wax makes this possible when you . melt wax onto ski bases they absorb it . like a sponge the skier skis the wax . gradually leaks out providing a slippery. layer between them and the snow seems . simple enough the hard part is picking . the right wax because the conditions for . every race are different everything from . the day's temperature and humidity to . the wetness of the snow matters the term . wetness refers to the snow ratio the . ratio of snow crystals to liquid water . in a given volume of snow snow that's . considered wet has a low ratio of around . 10 to want meaning for every 10 . centimeters of snow you get one . centimeter of liquid water which helps . the flakes stick together dry snow has a . higher ratio like twenty or thirty to . one so it's light and powdery the closer . the temperature is to zero degrees. celsius when the snow falls the wetter. it is the wet snow can stick to skis . creating a kind of suction effect that . slows them down to combat that racers . use a softer wax made up of more. fluorocarbons short carbon chains . containing fluorine which repel water. better when the snow is dry it's . crystals can penetrate the bottom of the . skis messing with how the ski glides so . in dry snow conditions skiers use a wax . that's even harder than the crystallized . water thanks to a greater proportion of . hydrocarbons long chains of carbon atoms. bonded to hydrogen's but it still isn't . as simple as choosing one or the other . these waxes come in slightly different. formulations for different temperature . ranges and they can be layered to create . the perfect combination so there's no . miracle wax that's the fastest every . time a better wax selection for the . day's conditions can't make up for a . bauble though that's racer speak for a . mistake but if the race comes down to . hundredths of a second a . understanding of the physics of wax and . friction could win the day thanks for . watching this episode of scishow brought . to you by our patrons on patreon if you . want to help us pick questions like this . to answer and get access to some cool . rewards you can't get anywhere else. you can head over to patreon. com/scishow . [music]. .
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