♪music♪ LESTER HOLT, Anchor: The U.S. Speed Skating team has two best hopes against a powerful South Korean team that took three of a possible four golds in Torino–Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski, an 18-year old world champion in his first Olympics. Speed Skating is all about force and movement, what in physics are known as Newton’s First Three Laws of Motion. Celski and George Tuthill, a physicist funded by the National Science Foundation, explain. [natural sounds] HOLT: It is the fastest self-propelled sport in the winter Olympics … Speed skating. J.R. CELSKI, U.S. Speed Skating Team – Short Track: When we’re at full speeds, we’re up at speeds of, I don’t know, 35 or 45 miles per hour. It’s pretty crazy for us to be going that fast–to be able to keep the speed and to be able to pass and maneuver around other people at the same time. HOLT: Which is what makes short track speed skating part sprint on ice, part demolition derby. CELSKI: In this sport, if you do bump into somebody, you’re more likely to get disqualified. HOLT: To win the race, a short track skater has to follow the rules of the sport–and the laws of physics: Newton’s First Three Laws of Motion. Starting … with the start. GEORGE TUTHILL, Plymouth State University: When the skater is poised at the start, coiled up and ready to go, that skater is at rest; there is no tendency to move. Newton’s first law tells us that an object at rest will remain at rest unless there’s a force acting on it. HOLT: J.R. Celski is a U.S. Olympic short track speed skater. CELSKI: What we do is dig our front foot in with the tip of our skate and plant the back foot in with the whole blade. TUTHILL: The skater sets the blade into the ice, leans over, digs in his skate, pushes straight back and accelerates forward. HOLT: Which brings us to Newton’s Second Law. TUTHILL: Newton’s Second Law of Motion says that when a force acts on an object, it produces an acceleration of that object– it changes the object’s motion. Right there. Second law of motion–a force on an object produces an acceleration. HOLT: The greater his mass–that’s the sum of all matter in his body and equipment–the more force Celski must generate to accelerate down the track. HOLT: And Newton’s Third Law explains how that works. TUTHILL: The third law of motion is sometimes stated as “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” So if the skater pushes on the ice, exerting a force on the ice, then the ice pushes on the skater, exerting a force on the skater. The harder he pushes, the more rapidly he’ll accelerate down the track. HOLT: Like a sprinter off the block. CELSKI: You know, it’s more like a track start. We basically take, four or five steps just planting our feet solid, solid, solid and it’s just like running. Expect we’ve got these long blades on our feet. HOLT: Propelling the skater faster and faster, straight down the ice. HOLT: And according to Newton’s First Law of Motion, Celski–an object in motion–will tend to stay in motion–will keep moving in a straight line unless some forces move him in another direction–say, around a turn. TUTHILL: That force comes from the skater pushing on the ice, to the outside of the turn, so that the ice can push the skater to the inside of the turn. HOLT: Turns are tight. CELSKI: We’re doing a complete 180-degree turn around a radius that’s really sharp. HOLT: To make tight turns, short track skaters push on the ice so hard their blade edges “bite” into it … etching tiny trenches for the blade edge to ride in around the turn, so it doesn’t slip and skid across the slick track surface … which usually works. HOLT: The winner of a short track race? The skater who makes best use of all three Laws of Motion to cross the finish line first.

Science of the Winter Olympics – Short Track Speed Skating

15 thoughts on “Science of the Winter Olympics – Short Track Speed Skating

  • February 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm
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    Tha'ts really cool!

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  • February 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm
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    Wow amazing!

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  • February 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm
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    This is really cool! JR is an amazing athlete!

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  • February 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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    This made science really cool and interesting !

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  • March 1, 2010 at 1:47 am
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    my physics teacher would love this video. Good thing I"m not going to show him it, lol

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  • May 8, 2010 at 6:09 pm
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    He's actually 19……

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  • May 8, 2010 at 6:09 pm
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    @KatherineRose21 Just saying..

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  • December 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm
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    this was stupid and obvious stuff, they hardly talked about the lean and form the most important part of speed skating

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  • January 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm
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    @hahayourreadingthis its because most americans are stupid and wont be able to understand it

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  • March 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm
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    Short Track is the most exciting winter olympic sport IMO.

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  • July 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm
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    Firgure skating!!

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  • November 11, 2013 at 9:46 am
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    Steven Bradbury is the greatest speed skater of all time!!

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  • January 27, 2016 at 3:38 pm
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    Very Interesting 😍😍😍

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  • January 28, 2016 at 5:34 pm
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    ty fam

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  • February 18, 2018 at 3:28 am
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    So this is incredible and exciting but nascar is “boring” and “all they do is turn left” okayyyy

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