Technological Advance in Hockey Skates…Why?

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There’s a new innovation in ice hockey that the inventor believes will “revolutionize the game of hockey.”

Called “Thermoblades” it’s a new type of hockey skate that uses rechargeable batteries and computer microprocessors to heat the skate blades.

The result is a thicker layer of water between the blade and the ice surface, which reduces friction and increases skating speed.

Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky was so impressed that he invested in the company. Four NHL players have been anonymously testing them in game conditions. The product launch was at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the projected cost of the skates will be $400 Canadian.

My question is..why?

This innovation is, quite simply, a technological shortcut to a performance advantage. Those with Thermoblades will get a speed-boost versus those with traditional skates.

The only way to avoid an unfair advantage is if everyone gets the new skates. Not everyone can afford such skates, but there will be incredible pressure for every player, and parent, to keep up.

Ultimately, players will get faster, but so will their opponents. And once that happens, the performance advantage versus contemporary opponents disappears. So really, the game will simply get more expensive. For parents struggling to keep their kids in the sport, this is not good news at all. Neither is the potential increase in hockey injuries that may result when kids are hitting each other and the boards at a faster speed.

This situation reminds me of the introduction of clap skates to the long-track speed skating world. Clap skates became widely used just before the 1998 Olympics in Japan and resulted in a flood of world in Nagano. Whoopee! Big deal. Was it the athlete, or the skates? This technological innovation produced a number of record holders who will never know if they really were faster than their predecessors. And now, all top-level speed skaters use clap skates – they have to.

Hockey administrators: don’t allow the new skates in youth leagues. Keep the rink “level for all players. If you want a sport that can compare generations of athletes — and that’s what sports records are all about – forget about equipment advances that produce an artificial improvement in the quality of performance.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]hockey,skates,records,physical education,sports,sport[/tags]

Why the Olympics are So Addictive

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The Winter Olympics are over, and if you’re like me, you’re feeling a huge void in your life! That’s particularly true here in Canada, where Olympaholics like myself became accustomed to following the Games in the mornings, at the office, during meals, in the shower, and late at night.

It’s interesting, but for those 17 days, I completely forgot about the Toronto Raptors, a team I’d been following before the Olympics. Somehow, the struggles of the millionaire players on that squad seemed inconsequential compared to the efforts of the world’s snowboarders, curlers, nordic skiers, ice dancers,  skeleton racers, and bobsledders, many of whom live below the poverty line.

I was particularly interested in the efforts of two athletes, Canadian hockey player Rebecca Johnston and cross-country skier, Devon Kershaw. I coached them both in their high school days, when they were competitive runners in addition to being phenoms in their chosen sport.

They were both excellent runners, having won medals at the provincial, and in Rebecca’s case, the National Junior level (in the 400m).  I can take absolutely no credit for their Olympic success – they made wise choices in specializing in sports other than running. But it sure was fun watching them perform at the highest level, at our home Olympics, under the most intense scrutiny they’ll ever face.

Rebecca, a speedy forward on the team’s “energy line,” won a gold medal in hockey – Canada’s game- with every eye in the country watching her every move! At only 20 years of age, she played with incredible composure and was a threat to score every time she took the ice.

Devon helped put Canada’s men’s team on the map in cross-country skiing, placing a surprise fourth in the men’s team sprint (a two-man relay), then a shocking fifth in the 50km mass start – the most prestigious of the cross-country skiing events. Better known as a sprinter, he missed fourth by a photo-finish and a bronze medal by .5 of a second.

My favorite moment of the Games was Devon’s interview immediately after his race, when, exhausted and emotional, he was asked why he was so upset. He said, that it was a tough pill to swallow to have skied for two hours only to come up 1.5 seconds from a gold medal… Not the bronze, not a silver. but gold. What a mental shift from an athlete who went into the race ranked 27th, and before the Games would have thought a top-10 finish to be a dream result.

For me, that’s why Olympics are so addictive to so many. The pressure-filled atmosphere allows us a glimpse into both the athletic evolution and the true character of the athletes we observe, and if we’re lucky, with whom we’ve associated.

You can see the finish of Devon’s race and his interview at:
http://www.ctvolympics.ca/cross-country-skiing/results-and-schedules/event=ccm750000/phase=ccm750101/highlights.html

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic cross-country skiing,Olympic nordic skiing,,Olympic hockey[/tags]