Here's why there are tiny green plants at the bottom of the ski jump hill

  • There are tiny green plants at the bottom of the ski jump hill, and they stick out amid the white snow.
  • The plants are placed there to help ski jumpers’ depth perception.
  • When the athletes are flying through the air and rapidly approaching the ground, the plants help them know where they are in relation to the ground.

Ski jumping is one of the most spectacular events of the Winter Olympics, with athletes flying down the hill at 60 miles per hour, launching 15 feet into the air, and travelling over 100 yards.

Viewers watching the spectacle may be surprised by another unusual sight when the ski jumpers land: tiny green plants at the bottom of the hill.

Their purpose is actually related to the spectacle – the jumpers need to see them at the bottom of the hill.

Yahoo’s Jay Busbee and For The Win’s Chris Chase both explained during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 that the little (fake) plants at the bottom of the hill are to help the jumpers’ depth perception. When ski jumpers are flying through the air at high speeds, with all snowy white beneath them, the plants serve as markers for the jumpers to know where the ground is and where they are in relation to it.

As Busbee noted, it’s not unlike in diving, when a person will sit at the pool edge and kick the surface so that the divers have a sense of where they are after they’re finished.

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