winter olympics

The High-Speed Physics of Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton

John Eric Goff

All the athletes start at the same height and go down the same track. So the difference between gold and a disappointing result comes not from gravity and potential energy, but from a fast start, being as aerodynamic as possible and taking the shortest path down the track. While gravity pulls the athletes and their sleds downhill, they are constantly colliding with air particles that create a force called air drag, which pushes back on the athletes and sleds in a direction opposite to their velocity.

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