Here's why spinning ice skaters don't get dizzy

Originally published at: Here's why spinning ice skaters don't get dizzy | Boing Boing


So there’s hope for me to overcome my VR/FPS motion sickness that’s preventing me from playing most games out there (I even threw up in my regulator during scuba diving in somewhat rough condition)? I want to know more about the training.


When I started working with VR, I was ill regularly from it. By the end of grad school, it didn’t bother me at all. But I haven’t done much with it in a few years, and occasionally I’ll get a little headache just from watching a first-person view in a video game. So, the adaptation doesn’t seem to be permanent.


figure skaters’ brains have adapted and learned to ignore this error, she says

Applying the plural there makes it sound like an evolutionary adaptation. Those figure skaters who couldn’t handle the spinning died off, leaving the population full of those who could spin, and that was passed down to the next generation.


Here’s why Russian athletes that get caught dope’n don’t face the same consequences as Bipoc athletes…

That is true. I started skating in college and kept it up - with a break during a very crappy job in my 30’s - until I had both hips replaced last year. Now, I’m back at the rink every morning before work and learning how to spin and jump again. If I take a spin too fast, I get a little dizzy. But I keep ramping it up. It was an extremely frustrating (re)start, but I’m starting to see improvement.


So… they’re NOT robots?

I was just thinking about Oksana Baiul and her one legged spin where she held her skate and looked like a spinning top.

Always amazes me what these skaters can do and the guts it must take to attempt any of those moves.

I love good human performance science when the question of “How do they do that!?” ends up just being “Git gud”. The brain just… adapts sometimes.


I wonder if it’s akin to not becoming nauseated in zero gee.

Sounds like a lot of spin to me

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russian skaters have also learned to ignore false scores and medals.

But no mention of the head twisting? That’s always been key to how they avoid dizziness. You hold your head in one orientation as your body spins, then when you run out of neck travel, you snap your head 180° to the other side as the body continues spinning. The quick snap holds a fixed visual reference as much as possible, warding off dizziness. This is called “spotting” and it’s fundamental to figure skating, ballet, etc. They briefly mention “using a fixed visual reference”, but this is, like, the whole ballgame. It’s why humans can do that at all.

I’m sure there’s also acclimatization to dizziness happening, which is what the study was about, but the popular reporting on this is terrible. The technique is 90%, and physiological adaptation is 10% of it (I made up those numbers, be warned).

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