ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Every four years, winter sports are showcased on the international stage at the Olympics, but one Southern Tier professor is conducting research on new technology to make one Olympic sport safer.

Professor Deborah King of the Ithaca College Department of Exercise Science and Athletic Training is working on smart blades, which add momentum and force sensors to regular ice skating blades. The sensors detect the force skaters exert on the ice when jumps, spins, and tricks are performed. The data collected from the sensors can show where force is being generated and help coaches, trainers and athletes avoid over-use injuries.

“With figure skating though, we don’t really have an idea of the magnitude of the loads that are acting on skaters,” Professor King shared.

The Southern Tier professor teamed up with researchers at Brigham Young University to create and test these blades in a laboratory setting. She says this project began in the 1990s when she worked with U.S. Figure Skating in between her master’s and Ph.D. studies. During this time, coaches said they wanted to learn more about how their skaters were generating force, so Professor King started thinking about ways technology can help.

“It was just really fascinating to figure out how to measure all these things on the ice from the skaters and then work with the coaches to interpret the data,” Professor King continued.

At this point, Professor King says this technology is exclusively for injury prevention, not for competition and judging.

As a figure skating fan, Professor King is paying special attention to the Olympic programs, including the men’s, team’s, and women’s competitions. By looking at the take-off, vertical axis, and landing, experts are able to understand why skaters complete some elements and why they may fall short on others.

The blades Professor King is creating will allow coaches and skaters to improve tricks by analyzing how athletes jump off of the ice and how they land.

“With the loading going up the body, it is going from the foot up to the ankle to the knee and up to the hip. All those joints are where you see a lot of overuse injuries in skaters,” Professor King concluded.

The next step in her research is testing out the blades in a non-laboratory setting so that the technology can provide reliable results in real-world skating scenarios.