February 7, 2014

Extreme athletic skills at Sochi Olympics

The following text and graphics are courtesy of Lucy Fahey and Lincoln Archer from Australia's ABC online  at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-07/sochi-winter-olympics-superhuman/5245428
"Here are [five] comparisons of how Winter Olympians perform extreme feats of bravery, endurance and precision..."

1. The ski jump is roughly a 40-storey drop from top to bottom

Ski Jump Animation
The Large Hill ski jump at Sochi has a vertical drop of 140m from their starting position to the landing area. That is roughly equivalent to a 40-storey fall in about nine seconds.
Competitors reach speeds of around 90km/h, with one study recording a skier at a top speed of 120km/h. By the time they land, they are travelling at just under 70km/h.

2. Skeleton riders cop 5Gs of force and can't try to stop

Skeleton Animation
Competitors in the skeleton can be subjected to as much as 5Gs of force on steep or sharp turns as they hurtle down the track - headfirst - at up to 135km/h. That is the same amount of force as riding a roller coaster, but with nothing holding you in place.
Athletes use their shoulders, knees and toes to steer the sled. And if human instinct kicks in and they try to slow down, they are disqualified.

3. Biathletes can slow their heart rate by 60bpm

Biathlon Animation
Biathletes are trained to have incredible control over their bodies. After skiing flat out for 4km (for men) or 3km (for women), they can slow their heart rates from a frenetic 200 beats per minute to a more manageable 140 per minute.

4. Then they shoot at a target half the width of a coffee cup

That gives them the precision they need to squeeze out four shots at a 4.5cm target - about half the width of a small takeaway coffee - from 50m away.
The sport also requires shooting at an 11.5cm target - about the width of two smartphones. They ski a penalty lap if they miss.
Winter Olympics illustration - biathlon

5. A moguls run is like 80 squats in 30 seconds

Mogul skiers carve their way through a 250m course with a 120m vertical drop, navigating through small mounds of snow. It requires constant short, sharp changes of direction in a compact, hunched stance. The only break comes via two jumps, requiring explosive leg force to gain maximum lift.
Moguls Run Animation
Defending women's moguls gold medallist Hannah Kearney has said absorbing one moguls run is equivalent to doing up to 80 squats. In less than 30 seconds...."


david g said...

PRGreat article, Pete, and very topical. From submarines to Olympic Winter Sports, can't complain about diversity, eh!

Hope life is treating you kindly.

Pete said...

Hi David G

Life is good.

Yeah I thought Olympic sports - on solid water - were a change.