The Physics of Ice Skating
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San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
The Physics of Ice Skating

Source - Penn State Students Karen Knierman and Jane Rigby

Ever wondered how ice skating works?
       Whether you're a first-time flounderer or a triple-axle pro, you've probably wondered what's going on. The purpose of these pages is to explore the physics of ice skating in a fun, approachable way.

        What is the level of these pages? If you know physics, then ice skating provides great examples. But we don't assume you know much physics. We'll explain the physics terms and concepts as we go.



       This site was created by two Penn State astronomy majors who thought it would be hilarious to get honors credit for gym class. After all, they kept thinking about the physics during skating class, anyway.  Thanks to the secretaries of the Honors College for their undoubtably incredulous cries of, "They want to honors option ice skating?!"  Ditto for our friends, our instructor and advisor... and to the letter E.

Ice skating instructor:  Dena Yeagley
Physics advisor:  Jim Beatty
Students:  Karen Knierman and Jane Rigby

Last updated  May 2003

Recommended Reading:
The Twisted Physics of 5 Olympic Sports | LiveScience Aug. 1, 2012 ... Physics principles like aerodynamics and angular momentum play a big role in many sports being played at the Summer Olympics.

The Physics of Sports - Road Runner Home Pages   Dec. 29, 2008 ... From gymnastics to ice hockey, physics plays a dominate role in the way athletes perform and the way the sport is played!

Physics of Sports   Physics of Sports is a collection of computer simulations that illustrate the role played by physics principles in many popular sports.

Physics of Sports  This site was designed to demostrate how physics applies to the everyday world of sports. Here are 4 different sports that demostrate several aspects of applied physics.

Learning about Physics through Sports Olympiad June 1, 2012 ... Students will learn more about each sport and how physics plays a role. Students that love sports already will find a new found appreciation for science.

What Is the Relationship Between Sports & Physics? The reality, though, is that sports and physics are intimately connected.

Using physics to throw, kick, and hit balls further  Feb. 3, 2012 ... This article explains the physics behind throwing a ball. ... A common goal in many sports is to throw, kick, or hit a ball as far as possible. ... The angle plays an important role in determining the distance that flying objects travel.

PDF “The Physics Ball Sports” Marc Walker Abstract All ball sports are governed by the physics associated with aerodynamics and fluid ... We find that aerodynamics has a huge role in defining all of these sports.

  • The Physics of Ice Skating   The theories of physics on ice skating may the answer question, "Is ice skating a sport, performing art, or a combination of both?"
  • Physics Of Ice Skating The figure below illustrates the physics of ice skating behind this principle. schematic of skater pushing off the ice.
  • PDF A Cool Sport Full of Physics  Of all sports, ice hockey is possibly the one with the ... Physics of Hockey.1,2 Interested readers may also find ... The player's technique alsoplays a role.

  • Physics Of Ice Skating The formation of water is crucial to the physics of ice skating. The principle behind the functioning of ice skates involves the application of the skater's weight over the blade.
  • Ever wondered how ice skating works? Whether you're a first-time flounderer or a triple-axle pro, you've probably wondered what's going on.  The purpose of these pages is to explore the physics of ice skating in a fun, approachable way.
  • The Physics of Ice Skating vs In-Line Skating  It's surprising that in-line skating so closely mimics ice skating. Ice skaters glide along with very little friction, while inline wheels grip asphault with "rolling friction." Let's compare the physics of ice skating and in-line skating.

  • The Physics of Figure Skating  Men will show off their spins and combinations in the Winter Olympics, providing an opportunity to watch examples of basic scientific concepts, such as friction, momentum, and the law of equal and opposite reactions.

  • The Science of Jumping and Rotating  As you watched figure skating athletes perform during the Olympic Games, did you think about the skills they are performing during their programs of the physics that  allowed them to jump and spin?   
  • Conservation of Angular Movement  Several spins and jumps have been chosen to illustrate the generation and conservation of angular momentum. Before proceeding to this analysis section, you need to be familiar with some basic physics principles and definitions. For example, it is important to understand the concepts of force, angular displacement, angular velocity, and momentum to fully comprehend the analysis of the figure skating jumps and spins.

  • How to use Universal Laws & Principles To Your Advantage  A Universal Law or Principle is a general truth or rule that applies to all things anywhere they might be that is binding on anything that exist and are factors and parameters governing all creation.
  • Physics and Problem Solving  This lesson begins with a discussion of the law of inertia (a body at rest remains at rest and a body in uniform motion continues moving uniformly unless acted on by a net force). Next, the law of inertia is applied to a specific context, the use of seat belts and airbags in automobiles.
  • The Laws of Acceleration  Presented is a theory in fundamental theoretical physics that establishes the relationships between time, velocity, and the rate of acceleration for all material objects.  When properly formulated as given in this work, these relationships establish what appear to be two new natural laws of physics.  These laws, to be referred to as the Law of constant acceleration, and the Law of relative acceleration are in complete conformance with the principles of both, the time and energy theory, and the millennium theory of relativity.
  • Newton's Laws for Kids - 2nd Law   A Simple Explanation of Principles of Motion, Force, & Acceleration  Newton's first law tells us that a force is required to accelerate an object. Newton's second law answers the question about how much force is required.

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Role of Physics in Skating
Science of Dance

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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