US Olympic Team Member Shawn White pulled out of the 'Snow Boarding Slope Style' competition at the Sochi Games because he says the course is too dangerous. White hurt his wrist while practicing on the course and a Norweigian competitor broke his collarbone  Joey Pants and I were wondering what the line is between 'challenging' and 'dangerous'.

Thank you, WMMQ Listener Scott Chambers!  He supplied the following answer:

"Why did Shawn White say this course is too dangerous? It’s physics.  The goniometry of the main jump is wrong.  If you look at my illustration you can see that if the speed is too fast or the angle of the take off ramp is too steep you land too far down the landing ramp and hit too hard.  The Sochi course is built with the ramp too close to the take off ramp so the boarders are landing with too much downward force.  The angle of approach and  forward momentum figure into the force of landing.  They tried to shave down the take off ramp but that just increased the takeoff speed.


Diagram Courtesy of Scott Chambers



The black line is a good jump, the yellow line will break your leg."