Photo showing Dr. Skateboard executing a frontside grind, courtesy of
Photo showing Dr. Skateboard executing a frontside grind, courtesy of

Physics on Wheels, with Dr. Skateboard & Othello Clark

Dr. Skateboard executes a Frontside Grind. Image courtesy of
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About This Episode

Chuck Nice takes Gary O’Reilly for a ride down memory lane when he revisits his skateboarding youth with a couple of real pros: 2x US Master’s Champion Bill Robertson, aka Dr. Skateboard, and former skateboarding and snowboarding pro Othello Clark. We’ll explore the physics of skateboarding, from the repositioning of the center of gravity over the board or the pivot point, to managing balanced forces with unbalanced forces. Find out what goes into an ollie, the no-handed aerial move that requires overcoming gravity with lift, and the importance of parabolic arcs to skateboard tricks. Study the science behind dropping into a half-pipe, how a skateboarder maximizes the changes in the state of mechanical energy as they move between high potential energy and kinetic energy. You’ll learn about the evolution of skateboard technology, including the revolutions in the sport that came with the invention of urethane wheels and the application of precision bearings. Investigate the role wheels play, from the soft, grippy wheels that increase friction on slippery or uneven surfaces, to hard “street wheels” for reaching higher speeds in skate parks, to tiny hard wheels that enable progressions of flip tricks. You’ll even hear about the economics of pro-skateboarding, when Othello describes the role sponsors played in his professional development. Finally, Dr. Skateboard explains how he uses the sport as edutainment, to bring action science into the classrooms, and how Othello Clark used skateboarding to gain acceptance in the predominantly white neighborhood of his youth and why it’s still an everyday part of his life.

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