McNeil interviewed by Scientific American about physics of big air snowboarding

James McNeil, professor emeritus of physics at Colorado School of Mines, was recently featured in an article about the physics of big air snowboarding in Scientific American. McNeil is the co-founder of the U.S. Terrain Park Council, a nonprofit dedicated to developing safer winter terrain park jumps using engineering design principles.

From the article:

Furthermore, the precise shape of the jump affects an athlete’s momentum; for example, a jump that curves sharply upward would induce backward rotation. A snowboarder could also get an extra unexpected angle at takeoff from changeable features in the snow, such as an icy groove worn by previous riders. This could directly affect tricks and landings—the point at which most injuries occur.

“I believe you could design a jump that had safety built into it with regard to the impact,” says James McNeil, a physicist at the Colorado School of Mines who has modeled winter terrain park jumps. “It doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt, but the likelihood of injury is reduced and the severity of it, should you be injured, is reduced.”