Friday, March 19, 2010

Comment on Video of the Moment

For some reason, when this blog is viewed in Internet Explorer, the comment from this post is not visible.  I enjoyed the comment and reproduce it here.  John S. of the Rheo Thing blog posted it...

I found the speedskating comments fascinating. When I was in grad school at Illinois (Urbana), I speedskated for a few years. (In fact, the same coaches that got Bonnie Blair started also worked with me, proving that even a great coach can't make just anybody a great athlete.)

In contrast to hockey and figure skates (which are hollow ground), speedskates are flat ground. (Yes, this is completely contradictory to the predictions of the Clapyron equation - too bad for Benoit!) Part of learning how to skate was sharpening your own blades. You'd put the skate in a jig which held them parallel, and then use a large grounding stone to do both blades at the same time. Nip off the burr and you're done: a perfect 90 degree edge.

So now I'm wondering 1) how a superhydrophobic surface helps and 2) how you would sharpen the skate.

Regarding '1', it's quite obvious that the real physics of skating are still being discovered. Regarding '2', is the texturing applied with adhesive as a coating that is periodically replaced? If so, then speedskating has lost a grand tradition: noisily sharpening your skates in the hotel room at odd hours to wake up your competitors in the room next door!

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