Motion capture technology, the same technology used to develop lifelike movements in animated movies and video games, can record everything from the tilt of a skater’s head to the angle of her skate. Then, computer software creates a model of the body’s movement so researchers can see where a skater can improve.
"Once we have the model of the skater on the computer, we can manipulate the model, go back and play the ‘what if’ game, so what if they move their arms into this position while they were in the air,” Jim Richards, Ph.D., Biomechanist at the University of Delaware told Ivanhoe.
Forty-two markers are placed on the skater’s body. While 10 cameras in the ceiling record the markers movements. First, wire image simulations of the skater are made and then later 3-D models are created.
Coaches and scientists can change leg and arm positions in the 3-D models to create different skating scenarios. Small body changes can help skaters improve their body position for better jumps and clean landings.
“We can send them back out on the ice with a specific set of instructions in terms of what needs to be changed in order to improve the jump,” Dr. Richards said.