Abstract From the physics point of view, the jump length in ski jumping depends on: the in-run velocity v 0 , the velocity perpendicular to the ramp v p 0 due to the athlete's jumping force, the lift and drag forces acting during take-off and during the flight, and the weight of the athlete and his equipment. The aerodynamic forces are a function of the flight position and of the equipment features. They are a predominant performance factor and can largely be influenced by the athlete. The field study conducted during the Olympic Games competitions 2002 at Park City (elevation: 2000 m ) showed an impressive ability of the Olympic medallists to reproduce their flight style and remarkable differences between different athletes have been found. The aerodynamic forces are proportional to the air density. Elite athletes are able to adapt their flight style to thin air conditions in order to maximise jump length and to keep the flight stable. The effects of flight position variations on the performance have been analysed by means of a computer model which is based on the equations of motion and on wind tunnel data corresponding to the flight positions found in the field. Athletes have to solve extremely difficult optimisation problems within fractions of a second. The computer simulation can be used as a reliable starting point for the improvement of training methods and gives an insight into the “implicit” knowledge of physics that the ski jumping athlete must have available for a good performance.