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Graduate Advising


K-State Online


K-State Physics





Michael J. O’Shea


Outdoor Sport Modeling

For Educators and interested sports ‘practitioners’



Backpacking – why smaller people can carry heavier loads. A simple model of the human frame is created and analyzed.  With some reasonable assumptions it is found that the human frame has an optimum size for carrying a large backpack load. 

Snowboarding  - why snowboarders can drop off significant edges. A snowboarder dropping over a vertical edge onto soft sloping snow at the base is analyzed.  The force experienced by the snowboarder on landing can be significantly reduced not only by the cushioning of the snow, but also by angle of the slope itself.   Analogous effects are present for a mountain bike dropping over a vertical edge onto a sloping surface.  

River Rescue – the forces involved in whitewater boating. Newton’s 2nd law is used to estimate the force of moving water on a wrapped kayak, canoe or raft.  A so-called ‘z-drag’ used in river rescue is analyzed and an example of a tie-off to a raft is also analyzed. 

Climbing on rock – the forces on the climber. The climber is modeled and forces on the hands and friction forces on the feet are calculated for various situations.  Regimes of climber stability are determined. 

Belaying a climber – if the climber slips just after they start their climb will they contact the ground?   The belay system is modeled to calculate the force on the climber should they slip and fall.  The condition that determines if the climber will contact the ground when they slip is calculated. Finally, the average force during this ground contact is calculated.