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Engineering Marvel of the Winter Olympics: A Broom

“We definitely learned a few tricks,” said Marc Kennedy, a member of the Canadian men’s team.

A quick primer on sweeping: It is important. The science behind it is much more complicated than people think. The simplified version is that sweeping slightly increases the temperature of the ice while creating micro-scratches on the surface. The result is that players are better able to control for distance and trajectory as the rock travels down the sheet. The sport hinges on precision, so every brush stroke counts.

But for decades, there have been competing theories about sweeping. One such debate: Is it more important to sweep faster, with a higher stroke rate, or harder, with greater force applied to the ice? And what about body positioning? Do sweepers generate more power by holding the broom upright or at an angle?

Photo

Old prototype parts of the SmartBroom are set up in engineer and SmartBroom co-inventor Andrew Flemming’s home workshop.

Credit
Ian Willms for The New York Times

These were the types of questions eating at Will Hamilton.

Hamilton was coaching a junior…

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