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Keywords:

  • alpine skiing;
  • force;
  • GPS;
  • Global Navigation Satellite System;
  • mechanics;
  • ski racing;
  • wind tunnel

This investigation was designed to (a) develop an individualized mechanical model for measuring aerodynamic drag (Fd) while ski racing through multiple gates, (b) estimate energy dissipation (Ed) caused by Fd and compare this to the total energy loss (Et), and (c) investigate the relative contribution of Ed/Et to performance during giant slalom skiing (GS). Nine elite skiers were monitored in different positions and with different wind velocities in a wind tunnel, as well as during GS and straight downhill skiing employing a Global Navigation Satellite System. On the basis of the wind tunnel measurements, a linear regression model of drag coefficient multiplied by cross-sectional area as a function of shoulder height was established for each skier (r > 0.94, all P < 0.001). Skiing velocity, Fd, Et, and Ed per GS turn were 15–21 m/s, 20–60 N, −11 to −5 kJ, and −2.3 to −0.5 kJ, respectively. Ed/Et ranged from ∼5% to 28% and the relationship between Et/vin and Ed was r = −0.12 (all NS). In conclusion, (a) Fd during alpine skiing was calculated by mechanical modeling, (b) Ed made a relatively small contribution to Et, and (c) higher relative Ed was correlated to better performance in elite GS skiers, suggesting that reducing ski–snow friction can improve this performance.