Fast, Faster, Fastest – Ski and Snow Tribology

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At Luleå University of Technology (LTU) they are joining forces to establish a Swedish Research Center for Performance & Technology in Sports. Within the multidisciplinary formation we find the newly started Ski and Snow Laboratory at Luleå University of Technology and therein the research group in Tribology who have taken special interest in the interplay between the athlete’s physiology, biomechanical output, and the ski-related technology. Their focus is to minimise the resistive forces, i.e., the friction apparent during skiing and they have started a joint endeavour with the Swedish national teams in cross-country skiing and biathlon, and the Swedish Olympic Committee.

How to Cross Country Ski: Quick Tips | REI Co-op

Figure 1. Cross country ski boot and binding system.

The unique multidisciplinary research team, combining sport science and technology, consists of the senior Profs. Andreas Almqvist (Swedish Olympic Committee Research Fellow), Hans-Christer Holmberg (Director of R&D at the Swedish Olympic Committee), Roland Larsson & Nazanin Emami, all affiliated with LTU. Their joint expertise encompasses multiscale- and multiphysics friction and wear occurring in sliding contacts, physiology and biomechanics of skiing, the behaviour of mechanical components and multibody dynamics, polymeric materials, and characterisation. In addition to these four well-known experts, the project already involves three PhD students, two MSc students and has been integrated in five different undergraduate courses at LTU. There are, as well, other senior researchers at LTU with expertise on the properties of snow & ice, and experimental measurements. Furthermore, elite skiers studying at LTU and/or competing for Piteå Elite, Sweden’s leading women’s team in cross-country skiing, will participate in this important survey of skier-ski-snow interactions. For the friction testing, they have access to the climate-controlled indoor ski arena at Lindbäcksstadion all year around.

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Figure 2. Illustration of the distribution of the skier’s body weight via the plantar pressure to the glide zones, and the multiscale and Multiphysics nature associated with skiing.

Recently, they hosted a full-day seminar with a focus on cross-country skiing and the interest was record high (link to the recording). Over 750 listeners wanted to take part in tips from the national ski team’s manager for the ski technicians, the general secretary and development managers, researchers at Luleå University of Technology and other highly interesting guests.

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Figure 3. Expert panel answering questions. From the left: Nazanin Emami, Professor of Machine elements, Andreas Almqvist, Professor of Machine elements, Mats Eklund, Development manager at the Swedish Ski Association, Johan Wåhlström, Development manager at the Swedish Biathlon Association, Rickard Larsson, SOK and former Wax technician and Coach for the cross-country team, and today’s moderator Joakim Abrahamsson, former National team captain in cross-country skiing and now Operational manager for elite sports at the University.


Swedish Olympic Committee Research Fellow, Professor at Luleå University of Technology & Editor-in-Chief Proceedings of the IMechE, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology

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