Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Introducing ‘Broomgate,’ the Latest Controversy to Hit Professional Curling

Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Professional sports and technology are often at odds, but the latest athletic scandal has nothing to do with super suits or performance-enhancing drugs; no, this one’s about brooms. Curling purists are raising a ruckus over high-tech brooms in a controversy that’s being called, predictably, “Broomgate.”

Curling is a relatively new addition to the Olympic sports family, and one of the most alien, at least to many Americans. The basic premise is sort of similar to that of bocce or darts, in that players attempt to get a projectile (in this case, a large, smooth stone) into a target zone. But unlike bocce balls or darts, curling stones have escorts. Two sweepers scurry ahead of the stone, smoothing the rough ice with their brooms in order to guide its direction.

Professional curlers must be dexterous, skilled, and have a solid grasp of the laws of physics. Or at least that used to be the case. Now, say detractors, fancy futuristic brooms are making it possible to buy a win. Unlike traditional brooms, the new Firebolt—er, icePad—scratches away at the ice’s pebbled surface, essentially sanding down a sweet trajectory for a gliding stone.

"It took a lot of the skill away from the throwers and put it in the hands of the sweepers and the person that was calling the sweep," former Olympic gold-medal curler Brad Gushue told NPR. “And really it's just allowed top players too much control to the point where it was actually difficult to miss some shots on line."

Gushue is just one of many players and officials concerned about the super-broom technology. "You really shouldn't be able to steer a rock down the sheet. That's not curling," champion curler Emma Miskew said in the Ottawa Citizen.

The World Curling Federation (WCF) agreed. During the 2015/2016 season, next-generation brooms like the icePad were banned, but this was a stopgap measure. To determine if the brooms really did lead to an unfair advantage, the WCF and the National Resource Council of Canada convened an official summit to subject the new brooms to rigorous testing. The results of those tests will be used to draft new official rules for the next season.

Surprisingly, this is not the first scandal to shake up the world of competitive curling.

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How to Tie Your Shoes With One Hand, According to a Paralympian
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Megan Absten lost her left arm in an ATV accident when she was 14, but the injury hasn't stopped her from doing extraordinary things like competing for the U.S. track and field team in the Paralympics. Nor has it stopped her from completing everyday tasks that most people need two hands for—like tying her shoes. After the shoe-tying methods she learned in physical therapy didn't cut it for her, she had to come up with her own one-handed trick. She shares her process in a new video spotted by Lifehacker.

First things first: Lay your laces on either side of your shoe. Next, use your hand to cross them and tuck one end through to make the beginning of your knot. Pin the end of one lace beneath the bottom of your foot to hold it tight, then pull the second lace up with your hand.

Now, you're ready to make your bunny ears. Create a loop with the free lace and pinch it between your thumb and index finger. Then, use your middle finger to grab the lace that you’ve been holding under your shoe. Circle this string around the loop, then push it through the opening to create your second bunny ear. Tighten the new knot by sticking your index finger and thumb in each loop and spreading them wide.

Watch Absten explain the process for herself in the video below. If you're feeling more advanced, she also demonstrates a second technique for you to try.

Once you've mastered those methods, try out these shoe hacks for happier feet.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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2018 Winter Olympics By the Numbers: Which Country Was the Big Winner in Pyeongchang?
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND, AFP/Getty Images
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND, AFP/Getty Images

The closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics was held on Sunday, February 25, concluding more than two weeks of history-making figure-skating jumps and listening to curlers yell at each other. But if you're someone who tunes in to the Olympics only to see your country win, you may have been left feeling confused. There was no official winner announced at the end of the event, so how are you supposed to know which nation dominated the Winter Games? Judging solely by medal count, these are the countries that skied, skated, and slid their way to the top in Pyeongchang.

According to Bloomberg, Norway came out of the games as the most decorated country. The Scandinavian nation of 5.3 million took home 11 bronze, 14 silver, and 14 gold medals, bringing the total to 39. That makes Norway the biggest single nation winner at any Winter Olympics, breaking the prior record of 37, which was set by the U.S. at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Norway was represented by about half the number of athletes competing on Team USA, but it was bolstered by a few advantages—like long winters (making training for cross-country sports easier), universal healthcare, and a culture that encourages young athletes to play sports for the sake of play rather than for the sake of winning.

Germany tied Norway for the most golds with 14, but earned 10 silver and seven bronze medals, landing them in second place with 31. Canada ranked third with 29 medals overall, 11 of which were gold, and the United States came in fourth with a tally of 23 medals, including nine golds. The Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea, Switzerland, France, and Austria round out the top 10.

Teams used to spending a lot of time on the podium may strive for that top slot, but placing in any event is impressive. The majority of teams that competed went home without any medals to show for their efforts. Fortunately, they have until 2022 to prepare for the next Winter Olympics in Beijing.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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