Winter Olympic Games 3 Scientific Facts You Didn’t Know About

(ORDO NEWS) — When you look at the athletes participating in the Winter Olympics, it seems that they are doing simply impossible things! Here we will talk about some of the scientific phenomena that help Olympians win.

These Surprising Winter Olympics Science Facts Will Blow Your Mind

1. Skiers and snowboarders do not break their legs due to the special design of the springboard

Within such disciplines as Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboarding, athletes have to ski or snowboard to jump from a ski jump. And when the Olympian first descends the steep ramp (approximately 40°) and then takes off 10-14 meters in height, the audience is breathtaking.

10-14 meters is the height of a four-story building, and when an athlete lands on the ground, a force acts on him that is 5-8 times his weight. How do they manage to stay intact under such loads?

It turns out that it’s all about the design of the ski jump itself, which is built in such a way as to ensure a comfortable landing.

“It’s not just some random hill with a ramp,” said John Eric Goff , professor of physics at Lynchburg University and author of Gold Medal Physics .

“The arc of the jump follows a parabolic-like path, it is a symmetrical curve similar to an inverted U. When the athlete takes off into the air, he or she goes up the hump of the inverted U, and when they land, they descend on the other side.”

It turns out that when skiers or snowboarders land, they slide at a 30° angle, so the moment of collision is softened by stretching over a greater distance.

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2. Hockey players, figure skaters and skaters have different skates

Yes, representatives of these sports areas really have different skates. The fact is that certain properties of the blades are necessary to perform certain tricks and movements.

Hockey skates

Hockey skates have a short blade so that athletes can turn around quickly. There are also small serrations at the tip of the blade that seem to cut into the ice and help to brake and turn.

Ice skates

Since the skaters perform with a pre-arranged program, their skates do not need special devices for hard braking. Therefore, the blades of figure skating skates are longer and smoother, that is, without such obvious notches as hockey skates.

This reduces friction and allows athletes to glide across the ice in a mesmerizing way. However, small notches on the skates are still needed – they are used to perform jumps or to stop.

Skates for speed skating
These skates have the longest blade to provide more contact with the ice. Accordingly, the larger the contact area, the more heat is released, which melts the ice under the ridge and helps to glide better.

Thanks to the long blade, the skater can also apply great force to develop speed – on a long track, the athlete can accelerate to 56 km / h.

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3. Different ice is poured for different disciplines

Hockey players, figure skaters and skaters not only have different skates, but also the ice on which they slide. It differs in temperature and thickness.


Speed ​​skating on long tracks requires the most dense and hard ice. That is why it is considered the coldest of all winter Olympic sports on ice, and the water used to form it is purified from almost all minerals. The temperature of such ice is from -10°C to -6°C, and the thickness is 2.5-3 cm.

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In curling, the purity of the water plays an important role. “Really clean water freezes better, forming flatter ice,” said Lance Wheeler, a materials scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory who competed in the Olympic curling competition. Its temperature is from -7°C to -3°C, and its thickness is 3 cm.

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Hockey rinks are ground using a Zamboni ice machine, named after California inventor Frank Zamboni. This machine scrapes off the top layer of ice, scrapes off any debris that has fallen on the ice, then “vacuums” the ice to apply a thin layer of hot water (approximately 60°C) on top. Hot water freezes and forms smooth ice with a temperature of -7 ° C and a thickness of 2.5 – 3 cm.

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Figure skating

Skaters need the warmest and thickest ice – with a temperature of -3°C to -2°C and a thickness of 4.5 – 5 cm. Such ice characteristics are necessary to make it more convenient for athletes to jump, in addition, such ice cracks worse.

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Bobsleigh, luge and skeleton run on a 1,450 meter long ice-covered track. Approximately 80% of the course runs at an angle, which allows athletes to use gravity. In this case, the ice must withstand a load equal to approximately 5g. Its temperature is -5°C, and its thickness is from 2 cm to 5 cm.


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