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K-State Physics





Michael J. O’Shea





Snowboard jumping, Newton’s second law and the force on landing – Special Feature, M. J. O’Shea, Phys. Edu. 39, 335 (2004)

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 the slope itself.   Analogous effects are present for a mountain bike dropping over a vertical edge onto a sloping surface.   In the geometry shown below the snowboarder is assumed to have enough speed to just make it to the slope.  The force on landing FN is shown in units of the weight of the person, mg.   The quantities d and b are



taken to be 3.0 m and 0.5 m respectively.  As can be seen, selecting the right angle of the slope q can reduce the force on landing significantly.  Selecting the wrong angle can give a very large force on landing!  

It is interesting that the physics behind mountain bikes jumping off ledges and landing on sloping surfaces is very similar.  Here the compression of the shocks on the bike would replace b and the slope would enter the problem in a similar way to that of the snowboarder.             

An introductory problem on a snowboarder dropping off a vertical ledge can be found here. 

A slightly more difficult snowboard problem can be found here.