Description: Professor Dustin Bruening wants to determine how to better improve the quality and safety of training in figure skaters by developing a monitor to measure jump count, jump height, and rotation.
Sponsor: US Figure Skating Association
Principal Investigator: Dustin Bruening
Co-PI(s): Sarah Ridge
Just like other athletes, elite figure skaters typically experience a struggle between performing better and maintaining good health and strength. Repeating routines, including several jump repetitions in order to achieve better technique and memory, causes significant stress to their bodies. Usually athletes endure the pain in order to focus on short term success; however, many times, they forget about the long term health of their ankles, joints, backs, etc. Several other sports have implemented technology and rules in order to keep their athletes safe in practice and during competition. For example, many rules about helmet-to-helmet contact have been put into effect within the last few years in order to keep football players safe. Dr. Bruening believes that taking the same sort of precautions in figure skating will be beneficial to the competitors. In this study, he plans to develop a device that can be worn on the figure skater’s feet or waist in order to track jump count, jump height, and rotation speed. By studying jump height and rotation speed, Dr. Bruening will be able to see whether fatigue is playing a part in the figure skater’s performance.
Dr. Bruening plans to develop new technology because the current technology is lacking in measuring all three of these aspects together. First, he plans to review the literature on the existing algorithms used in calculating information about the above parameters of jump count, jump height, and rotation speed. Then, on-ice data will be collected about the skater’s take-offs and landings as they perform an assortment of jumps, spins, and other movements. Third, the height of the skater’s jumps will be examined. Fourth, gyroscopes will be used to measure the rotation speed of the skater’s jumps. Finally, algorithms will be used to calculate device use.
As previously stated, the current technology lacks the ability to measure jump count, jump height, and rotation speed at the same time. Different devices such as accelerometers, pedometers, and standing jump height calculators do not directly apply to figure skaters; therefore, Dr. Bruening will develop new algorithms specific to figure skaters. By using gyroscopes for the purpose of calculating acceleration, angular velocity will be able to measure the rotation speed of the skaters.
Throughout intensive testing, Dr. Bruening will develop and test several algorithms that will measure the accuracy of the device. This will be done by cross-validating the procedure on several different figure skaters. This will allow the algorithm to be more widespread and work on a variety of body types and skaters.
Dr. Bruening plans to develop new technology that can be worn while skaters are practicing in order to benefit their safety, training, and overall performance by tracking their jump count, jump height, and rotation speed. Hopefully, less injuries will occur during training and competitions due to improvement in technique and physical health. Because his new technology will allow skater’s to know when they are being pushed to their limits, skaters will know how to better change their training to promote positive change in their bodies and performance. He hopes to be able to help figure skaters throughout the world incur less injury and, therefore, improve their overall “game”. He plans to meet with the US Figure Skating Association to determine the best options for making this new device accessible to various figure skaters and coaches.