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The physics of ice skating

What makes it possible for ice skaters to move and glide easily across the ice? Why do they easily spin and jump in the air? It's all about physics.

When a skater moves forward or strokes across the ice, a force is applied against the ice. The ice pushes right back, which propels the skater into a glide, jump, or into another move. Depending on how the particular force is applied creates different skating moves.

Pushing the ice with a blade is resisted by only a slight friction, so gliding is easy and so is jumping and spinning! The general low level of friction of ice makes is possible for a skater to skate across an ice surface and move faster and faster. Also, by applying some force to the blades, friction makes it possible for a skater to stop on the ice.

In addition, the laws of physics also explain why when a figure skater pulls in his or her arms, that a figure skating spin rotates faster and faster. In fact, it would be impossible for an elite skater to do triple jumps without pulling his or her arms in!

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