Department of Exercise Sciences

Dynamics of freestyle skiing

The Department of Exercise Sciences Biomechanics Laboratory conducts numerous research projects.

Biomechanics Laboratory Project

Dynamics of freestyle skiing – equipment development and implications for injury prevention strategies. Nico Kurpiers.

Presently alpine skiing is one of the most popular leisure activities that can be performed as life-time-sports with approximately 200 million people participating. Freestyle skiing, which now includes moguls, aerials, half-pipe and slope styles, has changed remarkably over the last decade. It has gained new popularity and opened a path for the so-called ‘New School Era’ which includes stylish tricks and spectacular jumps currently dominating skiing magazines and freestyle films.

Each year, skiing causes numerous snow sport injuries involving mainly the knee, specifically the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). New research is looking at the impacts of freestyle skiing on the body, with a view to design new equipment which will reduce injuries. Nico Kurpiers PhD research project as an international collaboration between New Zealand, Denmark and Germany is currently investigating the effects of modified ski boots on freestyle skiing, ie, moguls and aerials.

The project is carried out in New Zealand, Switzerland and Germany where elite level athletes are tested using a comprehensive biomechanical setup. This consists of multiple synchronised cameras and two force measurement devices worn between the boot and the ski. Additionally, pressure insoles are worn within the shoes to draw a comprehensive ‘data picture’ of the loads experienced in skiing. This study is unique in its complexity and will provide new insight into injury mechanisms and most importantly the effect of modifications to equipment.


Fig.1 - Force measurement device Fig.2 - Freestyle skiing participant