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US speedskaters abandon vented suits

For those interested, here is a picture of the controversial vent on the back of the USA Olympic speedskating “skinsuit.” That’s a significantly larger opening than what I’d first imagined when I started hearing about a “vent.” I was looking for a little slit somewhere, maybe in the armpit. I’m no expert, but this certainly looks like something that could interfere with the smooth flow of air over the suit.

In a sport where thousandths of a second count, the athletes thought (or maybe just hoped) their slow times and poor finishes might be due to this vent. The first idea was to put some sort of patch over the vent (with approval of officials), but the team subsequently decided to just go back to their old suits with smooth closed backs. No improvement in performance has been noted since the change was made. Nor did I expect one. But it was worth a try.

speedskatingsuit

16 Comments »

  1. Besides figure skating, speed skating is my favorite winter sports event, so the performance of the American team is indeed disappointing. My hat’s off to the team from Norway though, not to mention the amazing performance of Russia’s Victor An!

    I’ve got my fingers crossed big time for Meryl Davis and Charlie White to win the ice dancing gold! 😀

    • The short track speedskating is exciting to watch and yes, An has a fascinating story. I haven’t noticed if the short track skaters wear these vented suits. I was only thinking about long track. Wasn’t sure how relevant thousandths of a second might be until I read “Is it fair to judge this speedskating race by only 3 thousands of a second?”

      I’d love to see Davis and White win, naturally. If I can just keep up with the telecasts! I’m constantly watching events I’ve already seen, or mistakenly turning them off because I think I’ve already seen them when I haven’t. I try to avoid reading spoilers, but “yesterday’s” event might not have been aired here yet. (I think I just saw Davis and White win gold, but I’ve no idea when it actually happened. I just know it was aired here at 11:20 am MT on Monday … and Weir just said something about “this night.”) Sheesh, it’s not nice to confuse little old ladies!!!

      • P.S. Yes, I watched An win gold yesterday (Feb 16), but the dateline on the story you linked is Feb 15. Is it any wonder I’m confused? 😦

        Maybe the network should put a note in the corner of the screen saying when the event actually occurred and whether the telecast is the first or a rebroadcast. Of course they’d rather not remind us that none of it is live because of the time difference.

        • Talk about being intent for gold no matter what. An’s willingness to change his citizenship after being told he couldn’t make the S. Korean team is a story unto itself!

          Your suggestion for an on-screen time-stamp makes sense, but I can’t make sense of what they’re putting on their now! 🙄

      • I’d be hard pressed to figure out a better way to televise events happen so many time zones away myself, but I do know that ESPN managed to cover the Australian Open tennis tournament without this much confusion. In that case avoiding the “repeats” was easy – all the live stuff started around 3am!

        I’m so glad you included the word “think” in your statement about Davis and White, because I just started recording the NBCSports channel coverage an half hour or so ago! 😀

  2. Experimenting with the flow of air over different surfaces, including non-smooth textures, may be counter-intuitive, but there is a good basis for it in science. The most difficult and challenging engineering course I ever took was fluid dynamics (note: air is a fluid), and according to Wikipedia its mysteries still challenge engineers and physicists. From the page on “turbulence”:

    Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman described turbulence as “the most important unsolved problem of classical physics.”

    and,

    According to an apocryphal story, Werner Heisenberg was asked what he would ask God, given the opportunity. His reply was: “When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.”[4] A similar witticism has been attributed to Horace Lamb (who had published a noted text book on Hydrodynamics)—his choice being quantum electrodynamics (instead of relativity) and turbulence. Lamb was quoted as saying in a speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, “I am an old man now, and when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather optimistic.”

    Among other examples, the peculiar ridged scales of sharks provide remarkable efficiency and have been used to improve both airplanes and submarines.

    • Fascinating. I knew body shapes of sharks (and many other animals) had been studied re aerodynamics, etc., but I’d never heard about their ridged scales. And I can see how even the tiniest reduction in resistance would add up to a lot with a huge ship over a year’s time. I have vague recollections of my brother (SAC bomber pilot in the ’50s) talking about the weight of the paint on his plane, and care being taken not to scuff the paint on the wings, etc. Submarines’ cavitation is intriguing too (learned that word from Tom Clancy). All very interesting — the concepts, not the math. I’m allergic to math.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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