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10 Offbeat Demands Made by World Cup Teams

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Ninety minutes, two goals from Brazilian wunderkind Neymar, and one obligatory controversial call from a referee later, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is officially off and running. As teams gear up for group stage games, here’s a look at some outlandish concessions Brazilian hotels had to make to accommodate the world-class footballers calling the country home for the next month.

1. France

Setting up camp at the Hotel JP in the quiet and relatively small city of Ribeirao (population: 650,000), Les Bleus are holding their accommodations to strict standards, and are the pickiest of the bunch. French officials hired security guards to keep a watch on maids cleaning the team’s rooms (which, by the way, must be identical down to the paint color) to prevent theft, and there’s a blanket ban on cell phone use at work for hotel staffers. Perhaps less explainable than the tight security measures: France demanded all soap stocked in the hotel rooms to be liquid soap rather than bar soap.

According to Luciana Marotta Guimaraes, the general manager of JP Hotel, the French insisted on having two types of liquid soap in each room: one for showering, and one for washing hands.

2. Uruguay

To ensure a “peaceful and quiet environment” for Luis Suarez and company to get proper rest before taking the pitch, Uruguay required its hotel to provide silent air conditioning. Stationed at the JN Resort in Sete Lagoas, the air conditioning stipulation is just a means to make sure players get enough sleep.

3. Ecuador

Not wanting to miss out on the comforts of home, Team Ecuador (the lowest ranked South American nation in the World Cup) demanded a daily delivery of a basket of bananas — sourced from their native nation — to each of the players’ rooms. Also on the country’s list of demands: a welcome barbecue and a video game room.

4. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Valuing privacy at their home base at Casa Grande Hotel Resort & Spa in Guaruja, Sao Paulo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s team requested the hotel install an acoustic soundproof screen. According to the hotel’s Lourival Pierem, the World Cup first-timers decided the players would eat meals on one side, while the coaching staff ate on the other so that “their chatter will not be mixed.”

5. Iran

While not one of the higher ranked teams to compete in Brazil, the Iranian Lions will at least settle for being one of the sharpest looking. The team demanded free dry-cleaning from its hotel.

6. Switzerland

The Swiss national side won’t let Brazil’s lush beachside landscapes elude them during press ops: the team asked for a beach studio to be built to conduct TV interviews from. The team’s indoor accommodations aren’t too shabby, either: Switzerland insisted on its hotel having high-speed Internet and two Swiss TV channels available in each room.

7. Portugal

Much like France’s concerns, Portugal’s main demand was to beef up security for the entire team (read: star player and golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo). The team requested a six-person security detail to be available any time — four just for Ronaldo himself. Unrelated to the wellbeing of the team’s centerpiece player, Portugal also demanded video games for every room.

8. Japan

The Blue Samurai asked for each of the team’s hotel rooms to feature individual spa rooms, with a Jacuzzi tub in all of them.

9. Australia

The Socceroo camp at the Hotel Ilha do Boi in Vitoria, Espirito Santos asked for two large coffee stations (the hotel had to install coffee machines for four players) to be stocked with daily newspapers from around the world. According to Ibrahim Lanca of the hotel, the Aussies also want team meals to feature a healthy spin on Brazilian “red meats, fish, and chicken.”

10. Chile

Comfort is king for the Chilean squad’s digs in Brazil: the team demanded new beds and flat-screen televisions for each of the player’s rooms.

All images courtesy of Getty Images

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entertainment
Impossible Figure Skating Moves from the Movies
Paramount Home Video
Paramount Home Video

Figure skating is always one of the most anticipated events during the Winter Olympics. But in Hollywood, filmmakers have taken a few liberties on the ice, namely when it comes to some of the technical elements. And the judges are not impressed. Here are a couple of skating moves that could never have been completed without a bit of movie magic.

THE CUTTING EDGE

It's a climactic moment near the end of the 1992 movie, The Cutting Edge, when figure skater Kate Moseley (played by actress Moira Kelly) turns to her pairs partner Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) just before they are to take the ice at the Olympics and excitedly declares, “We're doing the Pamchenko!”

Frantic, Doug tries to talk her out of it. “Forget it. It's too dangerous,” he yells over the sound of the cheering crowd at the skating arena.

They argue right up to the very moment their music starts on the ice about whether to attempt the controversial “Pamchenko twist,” a highly difficult and dangerous maneuver their coach invented that, if completed during their skate, would mean an instant gold medal. Long story short (spoiler), they execute the move flawlessly and the movie ends with no doubt that they've won Olympic gold.

It's a triumphant ending. But let's just say there's a very good reason the filmmakers used a series of cuts to create the illusion that they actually did the move. The truth is, the Pamchenko twist is impossible.

Earlier in the film, coach Anton Pamchenko (Roy Dotrice) tosses a bunch of weathered looking diagrams onto the ice during a practice that detail a highly dangerous pairs move he has been inventing for the last 20 years.

Intrigued, Doug takes a look. “A bounce spin into a throw twist ... and I catch her?”

The Pamchenko twist does have a basis in reality. It is composed of two parts, as Doug deftly put it. The first part is a “bounce spin,” which is a real move that is actually illegal in competition, per International Skating Union rules. It's often performed in exhibitions and shows because it is quite a death-defying crowd-pleaser—the man grabs the woman by her feet and swings her up and down as he rotates. The woman's head typically comes mere inches from smashing on the ice if it is done correctly. If done incorrectly ... well, just try not to think about that.

The second part is a “throw twist,” more commonly known as a “split twist.” This is a required technical element in high-level pairs competition. To get full credit, a man and woman must start skating backward together. The male partner typically launches the female above his head, where she splits her legs and twists in midair as she pulls them back together. The man catches her as she comes down. Elite-level pairs teams regularly complete triple-twists (the woman does three rotations in the air). Two-time Olympic champions Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov completed a textbook split triple-twist in their long program in the 1988 Olympics—the first technical element in this video.

Now, put the bounce spin together with the throw twist. The physics just don't compute. The centrifugal force built up during the bounce spin would launch the woman—assuming she is released at the highest point of the bounce spin—on a parabolic trajectory. In theory, she could use the momentum to twist in the air, but it's highly unlikely that she would be thrown high enough to pull it off without getting her head smashed onto the ice during the bounce spin. And even if she did, the horizontal trajectory would launch her so far away from her partner that there's no realistic way he could have enough time to stop his own momentum from the spinning and traverse the distance to catch her.

Pamchenko says in the film that it's all about the timing. But frankly, it's not worth risking the horrifying injuries that would inevitably result to test his theory. There are plenty of other legal and physically possible moves pairs skaters can spend their time and energy perfecting.

BLADES OF GLORY

In Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell and Jon Heder play two champion singles skaters who are banned from men's competition for life after an unseemly incident at a competition. Desperate to get back on the ice, they team up as a pair. In order to stand a chance of beating reigning pairs champions Stronz and Fairchild (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett), they attempt a highly dangerous and difficult maneuver called the Iron Lotus—which has only ever been attempted in North Korea with comically disastrous results.

If the Pamchenko twist is impossible, the Iron Lotus is downright laughable—which is the point, of course. It starts out the same way, with a bounce spin. However, at the height of the bounce, the male skater launches the female into a back flip instead of a twist. While she's flipping, he does an Arabian cartwheel underneath her. Once completed, he catches her by the arm and leg, and the pair gracefully rotate out of it together.

“I swear to God, if you cut my head off,” Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) warns his partner, Jimmy MacElroy (Heder), before they attempt it in the final performance of the film. As they launch into it, their coach (Craig T. Nelson) screams, “No! Don't do it! I was wrong, it's suicide!”

But wordlessly, magically, they nail it. Or rather, computer-animated stunt doubles nail it, because it's physically impossible. It would require the “female” skater to reverse her momentum in mid-air to transition from the bounce spin into the back flip. Maybe it's possible on the moon, where gravity isn't so much of a factor.

So what have we learned from this little figure skating physics lesson? You won't be seeing any Pamchenko twists or Iron Lotuses in Pyeongchang. And don't try any of this at home.

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Big Questions
What Are Curlers Yelling About?
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WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Curling is a sport that prides itself on civility—in fact, one of its key tenets is known as the “Spirit of Curling,” a term that illustrates the respect that the athletes have for both their own teammates and their opponents. But if you’re one of the millions of people who get absorbed by the sport once every four years, you probably noticed one quirk that is decidedly uncivilized: the yelling.

Watch any curling match and you’ll hear skips—or captains—on both sides barking and shouting as the 42-pound stone rumbles down the ice. This isn’t trash talk; it’s strategy. And, of course, curlers have their own jargon, so while their screams won’t make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated, they could decide whether or not a team will have a spot on the podium once these Olympics are over.

For instance, when you hear a skip shouting “Whoa!” it means he or she needs their teammates to stop sweeping. Shouting “Hard!” means the others need to start sweeping faster. If that’s still not getting the job done, yelling “Hurry hard!” will likely drive the point home: pick up the intensity and sweep with downward pressure. A "Clean!" yell means put a brush on the ice but apply no pressure. This will clear the ice so the stone can glide more easily.

There's no regulation for the shouts, though—curler Erika Brown says she shouts “Right off!” and “Whoa!” to get her teammates to stop sweeping. And when it's time for the team to start sweeping, you might hear "Yes!" or "Sweep!" or "Get on it!" The actual terminology isn't as important as how the phrase is shouted. Curling is a sport predicated on feel, and it’s often the volume and urgency in the skip’s voice (and what shade of red they’re turning) that’s the most important aspect of the shouting.

If you need any more reason to make curling your favorite winter sport, once all that yelling is over and a winner is declared, it's not uncommon for both teams to go out for a round of drinks afterwards (with the winners picking up the tab, obviously). Find out how you can pick up a brush and learn the ins and outs of curling with our beginner's guide.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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