Externe krachten.

Externe krachten nemen bij het skien een belangrijke rol innemen. Er kan met en er kan tegen de externe krachten gewerkt worden.

Er zijn 2 soorten krachten die bij het skien een rol spelen en dat zijn de interne (spierkracht) en de externe krachten. Hier worden de externe krachten uitgelegd en hoe daar mee om te gaan.

skiing and external forces

Ski instructors should not underestimate the importance of understanding the principles that make a ski speed up, slow down, or change direction. This chapter defines some of these basic concepts and looks at how they are applied. It explains the forces acting on a skier when standing still, then in a straight run, to demonstrate the basic forces that set skiers into motion, speeds them up and slows them down. Finally it studies the changes in these forces when a skier turns.


The term force describes something that causes a skier to undergo a change in speed or direction. It is simply anything that pushes or pulls on an object. This chapter discusses the interaction between the combination of skier and skis and the snow surface.

Two categories of forces are experienced when skiing:

internal forces

Forces generated by the skier through muscular-skeletal movements.

external forces.

Externe krachten. Gravity, friction and the reaction forces from the snow. These are forces that act upon a skier. A skier must manage these forces through proactive and reactive movements to stay in balance.

managing the forces.

A skier and the equipment they are wearing (boots, clothing, etc) is a skier’s mass. This term is defined as a measurement of the quantity of matter an object possesses. This is slightly different than the term weight, which is a measurement of gravity’s effect on the object. An object with greater mass will have a larger weight because gravity is a constant.

Diagram 1 • The Centre of Gravity

The skier’s centre of gravity is defined as the mean location of the weight of a body. For our purposes it is the theoretical point in the body where all mass acts as if it is concentrated. As a skier moves, this point may be inside of or outside of the body (see diagram 1). Where this point is located determines where the skier is balanced on the skis. When we describe the location of the skier’s centre of gravity we describe its relationship to the base of support. This is defined as the portion of the ski or skis under the foot or feet. A skier standing still on flat ground is in balance when their centre of gravity is centred over their base of support from a lateral and fore/aft perspective.

A skier standing still on two flat skis, with their centre of gravity balanced over the middle of their base of support will be evenly balanced over two feet. The result of this is felt as pressure against the soles of both feet. Pressure is represented by the equation P=F/a where P = Pressure, F = Force, and
a = area (units are N/m2). It is important to understand that if the contact area is reduced or the force is increased the pressure is increased. For example, when a skier lifts their right ski off the snow they reduce the surface area (a), but force (F) – the skier’s weight – remains unchanged, therefore pressure (P) has increased on the left ski.

Diagram 2 • Gravity and the skier in motion

The relationship of these two reference points will become increasingly important as the skier moves from the static example above, to being in motion.

In general the force that puts a skier in motion is gravity. A skier in a straight run is pointed down a shallow slope and therefore begins to move. Since gravity (G) always pulls us towards the centre of the earth, we will break the effects of gravity into a few components to show how it puts the skier into motion (see diagram 2).

G1 is the component of gravity that puts the skier into motion. G1 is parallel to the slope. G2 keeps the skier in contact with the terrain. G2 is perpendicular to the slope.

As skiers straight run down a gentle slope they begin to speed up. This is an example of acceleration. Acceleration is defined as a change in velocity, or speed in a particular direction, of an object. Acceleration happens when there is an external force applied to an object. In the case of the skier in a straight run gravity causes the skier to accelerate. Further examples of acceleration are changing direction, speeding up as skis are pointed down a slope, slowing down through skidding or braking.

If two skiers of different sizes are both straight running on the same gentle slope, with a natural run out, the smaller skier will begin to slow down and stop in a shorter distance than the larger skier. This is because the larger skier, the one with greater mass, has more momentum. Momentum is defined as “quantity of motion.”

It is the product of the body’s mass and velocity or speed. The greater momentum the more a body will resist change in motion.

The force that resists the motion of sliding on or through a surface is defined as friction. Simply put it is friction which slows a skier down.

A skier experiences two types of friction:

  • friction from the surface of the snow
  • friction from the air – also called wind resistance

The direction of friction is generally the opposite of the skier’s momentum. In a straight run the force of friction is parallel to the skis; in a hockey stop it is perpendicular to the skis (see diagram 3).

When skiers wax their skis they are attempting to lower the amount of friction acting upon the skis to allow them to travel faster. A ski racer wearing a speed suit is doing so to lessen the slowing effect of wind resistance. A freestyle aerialist, on the other hand, often wears looser fitting clothing in order to use wind resistance to control or alter their rotation in the air.

When skiers attempt a spin or 360 they are creating rotational momentum. This is defined as a quantity of rotation of a body. Once they begin to spin they will continue to spin until an outside force, such as friction, acts on them. Similarly they will continue to spin in the same direction until an outside force acts on them to change direction. When performing a 360 in the air a skier gains rotational momentum through takeoff and continues to spin in the same direction until landing. While rate can be affected, the direction of rotation will remain constant. As in the example of a straight run, given everything else is equal, a larger skier will spin for longer than a smaller skier.

In a ski turn we move both linearly (momentum) and about an axis (rotational momentum). Any change in the velocity of a body in motion, speeding up, slowing down or change of direction is due to the application of an outside force. That outside force can come from friction, wind resistance or deflection from terrain or another body.

Diagram 3 • The direction of friction

forces acting upon the skier in a turn

Sir Isaac Newton identified a set of laws that involve forces and acceleration, momentum and inertia.

  1. The first law states that an object in a state of motion tends to stay in that state of motion unless an external force acts upon it. This is the definition of inertia. In a straight run a skier will continue to go straight unless an external force causes the skier to turn. A skier will not change direction unless a force acts upon them. This means that the skis need to interact with the snow so that the snow can push the skier around the turn.
  2. The second law defines the relationship between mass, force and acceleration. This is represented by F=ma. This states that the direction of the force is the same as the direction of the acceleration. An example is a skier in a wedge turn engages the inside edge of the left ski which causes the snow to push against the left ski. The direction of this external force is to the right causing the skier to veer to the right.
  3. The third law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction i.e. that all forces involve two objects and the force acts with equal strengths but in opposite direction on both. In a ski turn the two objects are the skier (and skis) and the snow. The force from the snow pushes on the ski causing the skier to change direction. The skier responds with muscular tension to resist and balance against that force.

“Without G1 the skier would not be in motion”
is an example of Newton’s first law.

“The skier accelerates in the direction of G1” is an example of Newton’s second law.

“The snow pushes back at the skier with an equal amount and in an opposite direction of G2” is an example of Newton’s third law.

Note that the steeper the slope the larger G1 will become, therefore the skier will accelerate more rapidly.

As a ski is tipped up on edge it penetrates the snow and the snow presses back on the ski causing it to bend. The force from the snow pushing on the ski causes the skier to change direction. If we imagine a turn as a portion of a circle, the force acting on the skis is directed towards the centre point of the turn or the axis of rotation. This is called centripetal force and is responsible and essential for turning (see diagram 4).

Diagram 4 • Centripetal Force

Any change in speed or size of the turn will change the amount of centripetal force. For example two ways to increase the centripetal force acting on the skier would be to either go faster or tighten the radius of the turn.

Through the course of the turn the skier experiences the feeling of being pulled to the outside of the turn. This sensation is called centrifugal force. This feeling of being pulled to the outside can be described as the equal and opposite to the force from the snow that is causing the skier to turn, centripetal force (see diagram 5).


Diagram 5 • Centrifugal Force

Centrifugal force is only experienced by the skier and is not observed from outside of that frame of reference. If the ski was to disengage from the snow the skier would not be thrown towards the outside of the turn, as the direction of centrifugal force would imply, but rather travel in a straight line on a tangent to the arc of the turn. This is the direction of the skier’s inertia at the point that the edges disengaged. This effect can be very helpful in communicating what a skier should feel through the course of a turn.

 the path of the centre of gravity in relation to the base of support

In all turns centripetal force is present. This force acting towards the centre of the turn means skiers must move their centre of gravity inside the path of their base of support to stay in balance.

Therefore to balance against the force from the snow in a ski turn the centre of gravity must move inside the turn, which means when turning, the path of the centre of gravity will always be inside the path of the base of support (see diagram 6).

Diagram 6 • The path of the centre of gravity in relation to the base of support

Lateral movement of the centre of gravity towards the centre of the turn is called inclination. As the skier inclines towards the centre of the turn, the path of the centre of gravity and base of support diverge. Some inclination is present in all turns.

The degree skiers can incline, or move their centre of gravity inside their base of support is defined by the amount of centripetal force acting on them. The faster the skier goes or the tighter the radius, the greater the centripetal force (see section on centripetal force), and therefore the more a skier can incline. In a wedge turn the skier is travelling at a fairly slow speed and centripetal force, while present, is low in intensity. Therefore the path of the centre of gravity is close to the path of the base of support. A basic parallel turn is faster and the centripetal force is greater therefore the path of the centre of gravity and base of support are further apart. Finally, in a dynamic medium radius turn, the force from the snow is more intense. This requires the skier to incline a great deal to stay in balance, resulting in the centre of gravity and base of support following quite different paths (see diagram 7).


Diagram 7 • As speed increases or the turn radius tightens the path of the centre of gravity and the base of support move further apart.

For turning to take place the ski must grip the snow to some degree. This is dependent on:

  • the ski must penetrate the snow
  • the snow must hold and push back against the ski

On hard pack the snow compacts very little and reacts and pushes back very quickly. In powder and softer snow the reaction that creates turning, happens slower because the snow must compact to a point where it can push back against the ski, and cause the skier to turn.

In a turn a skier experiences the combined effects of gravity and centrifugal force. This can be called the resultant force . This is the average of centrifugal and centripetal forces. The faster the skier travels through a turn the greater the centripetal and centrifugal forces. This results in the angle of the resultant force also being more inclined and allows for the skier to incline further. This is important to understand, because to what degree the ski grips is determined by the angle of the ski to this force.

The reaction force from the snow is always perpendicular to the ski. When the ski is tipped up and penetrates the snow it creates a groove in the snow to support the ski. Assuming that the snow can hold the force of the ski and the ski, or platform is 90 degrees or greater to the resultant force, the ski will hold and carve. At angles greater than 90 degrees to the resultant force the ski will carve a tighter radius. If the ski is tipped to less than 90 degrees to the resultant force the ski will begin to slip and skidding will occur. The more the platform angle decreases the more the ski will skid. Controlling the relationship of the angle of the platform (skis) to the resultant force is controlling the amount of skidding a skier will use in a turn.pressure and

pressure management – the sum OF IT ALL

When a beginner skier balances the upper body towards the outside foot, or a more advanced skier accelerates down a blue slope making medium radius turns, the force increases. In both instances the skier experiences this increase in force as an increase in pressure.

At a fundamental level learning to ski is learning to harness and manage the forces acting upon the skier and the pressure those forces create. As skiers develop skills and ability they develop a desire to go faster and to steeper terrain. This will result in the skier experiencing greater forces acting upon them in the form of greater pressure. Skiers create and manage these forces through co-ordinating skilful movements of the body. The more ski instructors understand about the forces that are at work when skiing, the more able they will be to choose movement areas that will create successful outcomes.

PMTS techniek


Met deze kennis en inzicht kunnen er bewegingen worden geleerd en geen houdingen waardoor het skien nog meer plezier geeft en blij dat ik glij gaat worden.

Een gierpont kan niets zonder water om in te drijven  en stromend water om mee te varen. Een zeilboot heeft water en wind nodig. Een skier sneeuw en een helling om te kunnen glijden.

Bij de lessen en trainingen bij Portes Du Ski worden met deze krachten steeds rekening gehouden.