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Video Why It's Almost Impossible to Do a Quintuple Jump | WIRED
08:46   |   today at 05:44


  • [Music]
  • this is the year of the quad since the
  • last Olympic Games snowboarders and
  • skiers have perfected a trick called the
  • quad court which looks and sounds
  • ridiculous because it is it's five full
  • spins and for full flips all in the span
  • of about three seconds but you know who
  • spins a lot faster than that in way less
  • time figure skaters we're gonna find out
  • what it takes to spin your body four
  • times in the air in a fraction of a
  • second and why spending five times could
  • be almost impossible
  • three years ago British snowboarder
  • Billy Morgan pulled off the world's
  • first quad cork Morgan will be at the
  • Olympics as will Andre raggedly who last
  • year became the first person to do a
  • quad cork on skis mind you these are
  • some of the world's best athletes rigged
  • at leas crazy parkour workout went viral
  • this fall because it's like a superhuman
  • Rube Goldberg in the gym but only a few
  • years ago skiers and snowboarders
  • weren't even sure the quad cork was
  • possible which raises an interesting
  • question are we at the limit of how much
  • a human can turn and flip through the
  • air as amazing as the quad cork is it
  • might not be the limit one physicist
  • calculated that a border could actually
  • complete six or more cork screws that's
  • because snowboarders and skiers get hang
  • times of close to three seconds that may
  • not sound like much but it is a lot of
  • time - a figure skater like 16 year-old
  • dent Ron
  • he's an up-and-coming skater in San
  • Francisco he took home the silver at
  • Junior Nationals this year so you're
  • here today to practice quads right yeah
  • yeah yeah try yeah yeah
  • emphasis on Trey yeah
  • but getting that quad down perfect is
  • tough Dinn and other skaters don't get a
  • ramp to launch fraud they have only
  • their leg muscles to propel them about a
  • foot and a half off the ice and then
  • they've got just about six tenths of a
  • second to rotate and land it it's one
  • really big fast motion so you jump up in
  • the air and then you kind of pull your
  • arms in and your legs at the same time
  • if you've ever seen the skater spin
  • you've got the idea they start with
  • their arms extended and as they pull
  • their arms in it causes the rotation to
  • speed up same thing when they're in the
  • air that's because it's something called
  • the conservation of angular momentum
  • angular momentum depends on both the
  • speed of the skaters rotation and the
  • position of the skaters body relative to
  • the axis that's the center of their
  • rotation the closer the body parts are
  • to the axis of rotation the faster they
  • spin and then of course is the landing
  • or you have to over them before you make
  • contact with the ice which a softer
  • rotation under the definite landing
  • quads have become pretty much mandatory
  • for the top male skaters thanks in part
  • to u.s. national champion Nathan Chen
  • the first man to land five of them in
  • one program to get a better sense of
  • what it takes I bounced with an Olympic
  • skater got insanely dizzy on this thing
  • and talked revolutions per minute with
  • this guy
  • would with the United States figure
  • skating to assist coaches and skaters in
  • performing multiple revolution jumps
  • Richards is a professor of kinesiology
  • and he uses motion capture technology to
  • map jumps and help correct slight
  • imbalances that can throw off even
  • elites to learn what that kind of
  • rotation feels like I got some help from
  • Tim Gable he was the first American to
  • land a quad in competition and did three
  • of them on his way to a bronze medal at
  • the 2002 Olympics they called him the
  • quad king you're actually known as the
  • quad King right
  • I was the quad king until Nathan Chen
  • came along and unseated me so what did
  • it take to become the quad king I think
  • it took a lack of fear and probably a
  • little stupidity and some time on the
  • trampoline which skaters use to practice
  • their jumps I mean you've got more hang
  • time on a trampoline you can experiment
  • with the technique and the air position
  • a little bit more with a lot less wear
  • and tear on your body I'm all about less
  • wear and tear on the body so just one
  • easy turn and Gable made it look pretty
  • easy but for me
  • a totally different story Tim gave me a
  • lot of pointers on how to engage my core
  • and spin more efficiently right arm is
  • out my times out core is engaged and
  • [Music]
  • alright well done my friend three to go
  • I asked him to tie me while I went for
  • my magnificent spin and a half and 1.08
  • well you've got enough hang time to
  • successfully complete a quad that's
  • impressive
  • even after dozens of jumps I never made
  • it to even jive revolutions much less
  • for one of the reasons to train on a
  • trampoline is that ice skating for all
  • its grace is a brutal sport researchers
  • at Brigham Young University actually
  • attached sensors to skates to record the
  • impact forces of landing big jumps from
  • the data that we've collected with the
  • instrumented blade we found that skaters
  • land with somewhere between five to
  • eight times their body weight even on
  • the safety of a trampoline there was no
  • way I was ever gonna pull off a quad
  • like the elite skaters if I couldn't
  • spin faster to pull off a Quint would
  • involve even faster speeds so fast that
  • Richards doesn't really think they're
  • possible which puts their average so you
  • remember how pulling your arms in can
  • actually make you spin faster there's a
  • way to practice that at home it's with
  • one of these things it's called a gold
  • medal Pro spin trainer and it's
  • basically a human turntable it is per
  • the instructions for serious skaters so
  • naturally I tried practicing with it and
  • basically just made myself sick and then
  • I brought it into work for my co-workers
  • to try
  • pretty sure none of us got anywhere
  • close to hitting 400 out that way but
  • there might be a way for professionals
  • to get the speeds they need to do a
  • Quint and that's what these they're
  • weighted glutes and in an experiment
  • Sara Ridge and Jim Richards had athletes
  • wear them while performing jumps means
  • I'm going to show you why from the
  • safety to this chair so if you have a
  • greater amount of angular momentum
  • because your arms were out wide and
  • because you had an extra mass further
  • away from your axis of rotation once
  • you're in the air and you bring your
  • arms in that extra mass is that close to
  • your axis rotation all that's left is
  • you're going to increase your rotation
  • speed and it works kind of at least for
  • the first few jumps all of the skaters
  • were over rotated which meant that the
  • gloves are doing their job but after a
  • few more jumps all of the skaters
  • adapted back to spinning the way they
  • did before the gloves
  • but even if skaters could learn to use
  • the weight to their advantage there's no
  • guarantee that it would be enough to
  • spin them around five times let alone
  • that it would be legal so we're probably
  • not gonna see a Quint any time soon and
  • it's hard to see why spinning is
  • absurdly difficult even on a trampoline
  • getting twice the air that the pros get
  • I can barely do it one and a half times
  • and it looked terrible spinning even a
  • little bit made me feel nauseous and I
  • never even tried it out on the ice
  • because this place would not let me so
  • at this year's games when you see people
  • spinning and they make it look really
  • easy remember that it really really is
  • not
  • in fact it's right at the edge of what
  • is humanly possible
  • [Music]

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At this year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, we may see quad corks in Big Air Snowboarding or in Freestyle Skiing -- and we'll see quad twists and quad jumps in Figure Skating. But have we reached the limit of what's possible? To do a quad, a skater's got less than a second to turn their body four times in the air. WIRED's Robbie Gonzalez set out to find out why almost impossible.

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