It’s not a bird, and it’s not a plane — it’s a ski jumper in an extremely snug suit!
Staring down at a harrowing 120-meter ski jump is a nausea-inducing sight for most, but for ski jumpers, it can mean a gravity-defying flight to fame and glory on the podium at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. And a very important part of those gravity-defying flights are their suits.
Those form-fitting suits accompany all ski-jumping competitors from the top of the jump to the bottom, but they're more than just stretchy, super-tight uniforms.
“Each suit is handmade for the individual jumper, and they have to fit within a tight tolerance to your body,” explains veteran ski jumper Colin Delaney. “So each point of the suit has to be within a two-centimeter tolerance to your own body measurement or else you could be disqualified.”
According to Delaney — who also serves as a coach at the New York Ski Educational Foundation — a suit that allows for a looser tolerance would create more lift, allowing the jumper to hang higher and fly farther through the air.
"It could kind of be like a wingsuit for a skydiver," said Delaney of a too-loose suit.
Be sure to check out the full interview with Delaney to learn how other factors — including wrinkles and even colors — can impact the ski jumper’s performance.