Rule Change Aimed To Eliminate Ski Jumpers' Weight Issues
As if "flying off a steep slope" at 90km an hour was not "enough to contend with," ski jumpers "used to have to worry about their weight," but a rule change "all but removed eating disorders from the sport," a senior official said, according to Philip O'Connor of REUTERS. Int'l Ski Federation (FIS) Race Dir for Ski Jumping Walter Hofer undertook research more than a decade ago that "discovered a simple way to remove the need for athletes to starve themselves." The 63-year-old Austrian said, “In the late '90s, we had in our sport the so-called 'lightweight issue,' where athletes tended to reduce their weight in order to get a better performance on the jumping hill, and we couldn't get rid of it." Hofer "gave up trying to find the answer in biology and turned instead to physics." He said, "The basic was 70 kilos and with that you jumped 120 meters. Then we started to go one kilo up, and the very same jump was 2.5 meters shorter. We fixed the kilos at 70 and started to manipulate the ski length. That gave us the idea to use the athlete's height and body weight, the so-called BMI (body mass index), and then we defined the ski length for each athlete." Hofer found a formula that could be applied across the board, "removing the need for athletes to worry about what or how much they ate." The new rules were introduced for the '04-05 season (REUTERS, 2/19).