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Winter Sports

The Yukon News has a nice article about Hans Gatt, who just won the Quest, and will be running in the Iditarod [March 6th]. In addition to making the sleds used by most of the top long-distant mushers, the transplanted Austrian is a nice guy who was there at the finish line to welcome in Jocelyne LeBlanc when she arrived to accept the Red Lantern.

There are rumors that this is the last year that Hans will compete in the long-distant races.

Another winter sport is taking a lot of grief from people – curling. The sport started in Scotland in the 16th century, so it was exactly designed for crowds, but it isn’t the seemingly simple sport that people assume. Nothing demonstrates that more than “The Shot” [YouTube video] made by Jennifer Jones in 2005. There is a graphic of it in her Wikipedia page.

What people don’t see unless they understand the sport is the necessity to calculate vector forces, as in billiards, and to adjust them by altering the friction of the ice in front of the stone as it moves. The sweepers are making the ice smoother or rougher to adjust the speed and rotation of the stone. It is a sport of finesse, not brute strength. You can’t be good at it if you failed high school physics, because it is really dependent on being able to use the laws of motion to get 40 pounds of granite to follow the path you need.

Here’s a nice site for the basics, using animation, and, as usual, Wikipedia tells you more than you probably want to know.