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Olympics observations (2) Wed, Feb 24, 2010
Here are some of my observations from watching the Winter Olympics: 
  1. It's weird when non-native citizens or at least non-resident citizens represent a certain country.  There was an American figure skater who represented the nation of Georgia, and there was at least one skier who lived in America but was skiing for Canada.  I'm assuming the Olympic committee has some sort of application process where you need to show them a utility bill or something like that to verify your citizenship.  But otherwise, it just seems like a good way for an Olympic hopeful to get to the games, when perhaps it might be difficult to do so, i.e. America had like 60 figure skaters, but Georgia had one.
  2. It's cool how all the athletes in a given sport make the exact same motions.  The cross-country skiing stuff particularly stuck out to me.  Since I don't typically spend my evenings watching cross-country skiing, it was fairly new to me.  And what would seem to me to be unusual or awkward physical motions like skate-skiing or using both poles at the same time, were simply the tried and true methods of excelling at that sport.  It's not like anybody had an even slightly different technique that enabled them to get ahead.  This just shows that that's how that sport works, period.  It was the same with speedskaters, which as Wendy pointed out, often looked like a school of fish as they swung their arms and glided along in unison.
  3. It's amazing that the difference between first and second place can be in the hundredths of seconds.  That pretty much proves that these people are the best in the world at what they do.  All their silly tight clothes and their aerodynamic helmets and their gold-tipped gloves have become standard components of their respective sport, which in addition to their innate physical abilities and mental focus, make them all pretty much on the same level.  And that level is high.
  4. That double-vision camera thing is awesome.  On some of the skiing events, they'll superimpose the footage of the leader on top of the current skier's footage, so it looks like one skier is chasing the other.  It's sort of a visual representation of the timer in the bottom left corner that says how close the current skier is to the leader.  I'm a sucker for stuff like that.

Rus Wed, Feb 24, 2010
Interesting about point #2 above.  I find the evolution of the Nordic events interesting. 

-Cross Country Skiing did not include Freestyle events until 1988.  Before then, everyone skied classic style and there was no skate skiing allowed. 

-Ski Jumping form changed around the same time.  The current technique is called V-style and apparently yields a 10% longer jump than the traditional Daescher Technique.  I full anticipate a physics blog post from you explaining why this is the case.  :-)

Dave Thu, Feb 25, 2010
I had no idea ski jumping has changed so much over the years.  I don't think I have a full "physics of ski jumping" blog post in me.  But essentially, the V-style of jumping makes it so that there's a larger surface area generating lift as compared to when the skis are parallel to the jumper's body.  It all comes down to technique, body size/shape, and weight.  I wouldn't be surprised if they hire aerodynamics experts to help them optimize their jumps.  Here's a link with a little more information.

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