## Winter Olympics 2022: Why do figure skaters spin so fast?

February 3, 2022

Here is the sensational pairs team from the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But why do ice skaters spin so fast?

Here is the math!

# REASON  1:

Well, mathspiggies, the girl in this video is right. Angular momentum remains constant unless external forces are applied.

# L = mvr

L = angular momentum

v = linear velocity

r = separation of object

Louisa Barama, USA

Let’s have a look at this equation:

The fastest spin on ice skates was achieved by Natalia Kanounnikova (Russia) with a maximum rotational velocity of 308 RPM (rotations per minute) at Rockefeller Centre Ice Rink, New York, USA on 27 March 2006. See Guinness Book of Records.

## Record spin :  vr = 308 RPM

Other spins include:

## Triple Axel spin vr = 220 – 280 RPM

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

## Maximum Triple Axel spin vr = 402 RPM

Skaters can spin faster during a triple axel jump because there is no friction from the ice slowing their spin.

To complete a quad axel, it’s estimated that the skater would have to rotate in the air at:

## 540 rpm.

…………………………………………………………………………………

## Camel spin vr = 90 RPM

Kim Yuna, South Korea

# REASON 2:

## a camel spin into a very fast standing spin?

Now, mathspiggies, you must separate Linear Velocity (v1 ) from Angular Velocity (vr ). Linear Velocity is measured in m/sec ie. it is the speed of, say, a skaters foot around the circle. Angular Velocity is measured in either RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) or degrees or Radians per minute. Ie. It is the rate of spin. We can’t judge how many m/sec a skaters foot is moving in a circle. We can only see how fast they spin. In other words, we see their Angular Velocity. When a skaters foot is in the Camel position that foot travels in a very big circle.

But when that same foot is in a Triple Axel postion it moves in a very, very small circle.

By halving the radius, firstly, a skater’s Linear Velocity doubles due to the conservation of angular momentum.

Then, secondly, by halving the radius the circumference of the circle moved by , say, the skaters foot is halved.

Overall, by doubling the velocity around the circle and halving the circumference a skater increases their rotational velocity by a factor of 4.

Look at the numbers:

## Camel spin vr = 90 RPM

…………………………………………………………………………………

July 30, 2021

## Winter Olympics: Beaten by 0.001 seconds

February 14, 2018

In 2014 Winter Olympics Annette Gerristen (below) lost the Gold Medal in the 1000 m Women’s speed skate competition by 0.02 seconds.

Annette Gerritsen fromthe Netherlands

# If Yara lost the Gold Medal by 0.02 secs (2 hundredths of a second) what would the distance be between the Gold and Silver place getters?

## 23.8 cm behind the Gold Medalist

### The 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 500m Women’s Speed Skating was Arianna Fontana.

Italy’s Arianna Fontana wins the 500 m Speed Skating 2018 Olympic Gold Medal in 42.569 seconds ahead of Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands and Kim Boutin of Canada.

# If you lose by  0.001 secs…………

Apollo Ono (below) competed in the 1500m men’s speed skating. He has won 8 Olympic Medals.

If a speed skater lost the Gold Medal by 0.001 seconds, the smallest measured time segment at the Olympics, they would be:

# 1.19 cm

behind the winner. That is less than the length of a small fingernail.

## 5. Beaten by 0.001 seconds

January 23, 2014

Here is a screen grab from the  New York Times article on Speed Skating:

Fractions of a Second: New York Times

Annette Gerritsen fromthe Netherlands

Annette Gerristen lost the Gold Medal in the 1000 m Women’s speed skate competition by 0.02 seconds.

Apollo Ono USA speed skater

Screen Grab NBC Mathletes
Apollo Ono Recorded Speed

From the wonderful NBC Mathletes Video

# How far can a speed skater travel in 0.02 secs?

When 1st and 2nd place are separated by 0.02 seconds, they are travelling at almost the same speed. So the second place contestant is:

# 23.8 cm

behind the winner.

The distance travelled by the winning speed skater in 0.002 seconds would be:

# 2.38 cm.

So the second place competitor would be 2.38 cm behind.

If a speed skater lost the Gold Medal by 0.001 seconds, the smallest measured time segment at the Olympics, they would be:

# 1.19 cm

behind the winner. That is less than the length of a small fingernail.