I do not blame if you are thinking back to Airplane and the query to the control tower: What is your vector Victor?. What the hector a vector and how in the world do vectors apply to skiing?
Certainly, one does not compute vectors consciously while skiing anymore than Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre computes the velocity the football needs to be traveling to hit the receiver 20 yards down field. Still, understanding the math and physics behind what we do can be useful in understanding the whys and hows of skiing.
We start off discussing vectors.
A vector is a property that contains two parts. One part is direction and the other part is size. One vector we are all familiar with is velocity which is different from speed. Speed is the size component of velocity and of course the direction is the direction component.
Force is another such property. Force has both direction and size. Both velocity and force are important in skiing. Not too long ago I wrote about skidding and in one passage I stated:
What is skidding? Quite simply a skid occurs when you set your edges into the snow perpendicularly to your current velocity. Velocity is speed (how fast you are going) plus the direction you are going (where you are going). The ideal is having your edges in the snow pointed in the same direction as your velocity.
I want to expand on: when you set your edges into the snow perpendicularly to your current velocity. Need your edges be set at a perfect 90°s to the direction of your motion? No they do not!
If your edges are at 90° to your motion than the whole length of the ski edges are in the snow and most likely you intend to stop, but what happens when your edges are in the snow only slight off angle to your velocity? You still have skidding but less of your ski’s edge is actually tearing at the snow.
So you may ask, what is going on when we bend our skis and the edges of our skis are at varying angles? Nothing special, if you are carving then the edges are pointing in the direction of the ski’s velocity. It may seem strange that the tip of your ski pointing perpendicular to the fall line is in line with the velocity the same as the tail of your ski which is traveling downhill yet and it too is moving in the direction of the current velocity.
Newton’s first law states: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. and that is very important in skiing.
To be continued.