Science and the Winter Olympic Games

Science and the Olympic Games have long been closely associated. Scientific innovation in training and sports technology have helped in the development of athletic performances. Science has been at the forefront of the drug testing of recent years, and the results of athletes and sports continue to be heavily studied. Here are some examples of the role science is playing in the Winter Olympic Games.

Anthropometry

Comparing the body size and shape of Olympic athletes provide an interesting reflection of changes in equipment, technique and training over time. We have analyzed the database of athletes from the 2014 Winter Olympics. We have also compared the height, weight and body mass index (BMI) of the champion male 50km Olympic Cross-Country Skiers for most Winter Olympics. Many more anthropometric measurements have been taken of Summer Olympic athletes.

Nutrition

Olympic athletes look for every advantage they can, and will seek advice of a sports dietitian to ensure they maximize their performance. We have listed and analyzed the food supply at the Winter Olympic Villages for Vancouver, Sochi, and PyeongChang, and also discussed the diets of athletes at previous modern Olympic Games and have information about winter sports nutrition.

Technology

Throughout the history of the modern Olympics, there has been many examples of the use of emerging technology associated with the Olympic Games. In the Winter Olympics the highly varied environmental conditions and the state of te snow and ice means that the equipment needs to be specially prepared.

The correct waxing of the skis and snowboards is very important. The highly skilled technicians who are trusted with this important role need to take into consideration the temperature, humidity, and the relative freshness of the snow to concoct the mixture that will enable the bases to glide across the snow with as little friction as possible.

The athlete's skis and snowboards are also put through stone-grinding machines that imprint textures designed for the different snow conditions. Cross-country skiers can travel with 20 or more pairs of skis, each suited to a specific set of conditions.

Bobsled design has changed over time, with more aerodynamic designs based on wind tunnel research. Also, the athlete's helmets, suits, and the positions they get into for racing are studied and adapted for maximum aerodynamic efficiency.

See more on the Technology use at the Summer Olympics.

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