Gliding for Gold
The Physics of Winter Sports
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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I am grateful to Amanda Bird of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation for permission to reproduce a few of the photos from their gallery; similarly, I am happy to acknowledge the help of Terry Kolesar of U.S.A. Curling, and Katie Perhai of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in providing images. For allowing me to use their photos of skaters, I thank ...
The Start Lines
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Winter sports (and I mean sports played on snow or ice, not sports that happen to be played in winter, like football) are hugely popular. Ice hockey has been organized into professional leagues in many countries for decades; each team has thousands of fanatical supporters who follow every aspect of the game. Skiing is practiced as a pastime by millions; they and ...
1. Solid Water—Sports and Science
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Welcome to the warm-up. In the next chapter you will be metaphorically hurled headfirst into the cold water of winter sports physics. By way of preparation, so that you may brace yourself, this chapter permits you to first dip a toe. Stated more mundanely (but also less alarmingly—I wouldn’t want you to think that reading this book is going to be like taking a cold ...
PART I. Ice Sports
2. Skating on Thin Ice
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We have seen how thin the ice is—one inch or less—for indoor ice sports such as speed skating and hockey. In this chapter we examine the physics of movement over ice, using ice skates. The act of skating is in many ways unnatural, and yet figure skaters make it look graceful, elegant, and artistic; speed skaters are the fastest people on two feet; and hockey players ...
3. Down the Slippery Slope
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The bobsled (bobsleigh in Canada and Europe), the skeleton, and the luge all use the same track, though with different starting points (as is illustrated in the plan of the Whistler Sliding Centre track in British Columbia, Canada, in fig. 3.1). These events differ in the construction and weight of the sled, in the positions adopted by the sled rider(s), in the manner of ...
4. Pucks and Rocks
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Intrepid winter sports athletes hurl themselves at high speed over ice: they aim to slip, slide, slither, and glide their way from A to B in the fastest time, or at least faster than their opponents. Two of our winter sports, however, involve athletes hurling objects other than themselves. Sure, a hockey player is happy to turn himself into a projectile, directed at an opponent or ...
PART II. Snow Sports
5. Skiing—On the Slopes and on the Level
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There are many images from alpine skiing events at the 2010 Winter Olympics that stand out. You may recall Lindsey Vonn flying down the slopes at Whistler Creekside, bringing to that race a pedigree as world champion and a shin injury, and finishing the race with a gold medal— America’s first in women’s downhill. In the men’s 50-km cross-country ...
6. Ski Jumping and Snowboarding—On Snow and Air
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The physics of winter sports takes off in this chapter, as we follow skiers and snowboarders who leave the slopes and go airborne, under the action of physical forces. We will still encounter our old friends gravity and aerodynamic drag, of course, but we leave sliding friction on the ground and take up with a new force—aerodynamic lift. ...
The Finish Lines
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For an eloquent graphical statement about the eagerness and enthusiasm with which we embrace winter sports, and about the drive which propels athletes to greater heights (actually, lesser heights in downhill events), see the graph on p. 142. This graph shows how the world record time for the men’s 1,500-m long-track speed skating event has decreased over the ...
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Here, I provide some questions for you to ponder. Regard these as tutorial questions if you are a university student, or as brain fodder if you are reading this book simply to scratch an intellectual itch. Some questions are easy, others are hard. Some are short, others long. In some cases I will provide a hint or partial answer to the question posed; in other cases you are completely on your own. ...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 34 halftones, 45 line drawings
Publication Year: 2011