sports

Cyclists’ Pacing Strategies Should Consider the Wind

Both Tour de France racers and recreational cyclists can improve performance by riding hardest into the wind.

As the elite riders of the Tour de France race towards the finish line of the grueling, 21-stage race this weekend, they are looking for any little tactical advantage they can gain over their rivals. New research from a team of sports scientists in Sweden could help them find that edge.

Road cyclists need to adapt their speed and energy expenditure during a race to account for changing conditions such as wind. Previous studies have shown that a cyclist who maintains an even power output, slowing down into a headwind and speeding up with a tailwind while working at the same effort throughout, will lose more time in the headwind segments than they will gain back in the tailwind segments. So the best strategy is to go a bit harder into the wind and then recover at an easier pace when riding with the wind. Read more in Inside Science.

New Broom Technology Sweeps Through Curling World

Reversing a typical nylon curling brush’s fabric could dramatically change the sport.

Even though the ice is still the same, and most of the 42-pound stones sent down the ice in each contest still come from the Scottish island of Ailsa Craig, there’s a technological controversy brewing in the world of curling. Top players are concerned that a new type of broom makes it too easy to control the direction of the sliding rock, and could damage the ice. Read more in Inside Science.

Stadium Acoustics Pump Up the Volume

At sports venues designed to maximize crowd atmosphere, beware of hearing loss.

The roar of the crowd is a major part of the excitement of attending a sporting event. A noisy, engaged crowd makes for a better experience for fans, and is often credited with helping the players on the field, too.

“The players love it,” said Carl Francis, director of communications for the NFL Players Association. “Fan support definitely has an impact on the players.”

Stadium designers know this, and the new generation of stadiums now incorporate design features that help boost fan support by trapping and amplifying crowd noise. Read more in Inside Science.

Backyard Hockey A Bellwether For Climate Change

Volunteers track shifts in temperature with their homemade rinks.

Outdoor hockey games on suburban backyard rinks are an iconic part of the culture in Canada. Wayne Gretzky famously learned his trade on a homemade rink his father created every winter, and until recently the image of children skating on a frozen pond was featured on the back of the country’s $5 bill.

So when scientists in Montreal predicted that rising global temperatures would eventually lead to the end of outdoor skating in much of Canada, Robert McLeman and Colin Robertson, geographers at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, saw a way to get people interested in how climate change will affect them. Read more in Inside Science.