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Snowboarding on snow vs. air Thu, Feb 20, 2014
I was listening to an interview of a Snowboard Cross competitor in the Olympics, and he said something along the lines of how the riders try to get as little air as possible because riding on the snow is faster than flying through the air.  My nerd sensors went off as I thought about how wrong that statement is.  In simplistic terms, a snowboarder's movement is governed by the sum of the forces of gravity, friction, and drag (I talked about this a little in a previous post).  Basic physics tells me that if a snowboarder is in the air, he's no longer dealing with the friction between his board and the snow, so he should go faster.  In my own experience, I've always felt like flying through the air makes me go momentarily faster, but that could also be a function of the uneasiness of landing a jump and whatnot.  After thinking about it for a little while, I realized the caveat he failed to mention is this:  When you're traveling through the air on a snowboard, you typically leave the ground at an angle greater than the slope of the hill.  In other words, you're traveling in the relative direction of "up" while your competitors are traveling in the relative direction of "down".  So even though you're technically going a little faster, you're traveling a longer distance, which probably equates to "snow is faster than air". #sports

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