There are few feats as breathtaking as a perfect ski jump. Hurtling down a snow-covered ramp at speeds in excess of 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, the skier literally dives off a cliff, soars through the air, and finally descends back to earth some 100 meters (328 feet) from takeoff. To a novice, the steps in a ski jump look deceptively simple. In reality, each involves a complex balance of forces where only slight changes in equipment or body position can mean the difference between a gold medal and disaster.

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