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Page last updated at 20:26 GMT, Saturday, 27 February 2010

BBC Winter Olympics experts answer your questions

Alena Leonova and Shaun White
Alena Leonova and Shaun White show their dizzying moves

Thanks to all of you who have been sending in your questions about the Winter Olympics, which our experts have been answering.

Q: Why are the bobsleigh competitors suits so thin, offering no protection against the ice? Having seen the damage to our competitors why do they not offer more protection? Also why do they stop half-way down their legs -often exposing bare legs to the freezing weather? Lesley Lewis, UK

Bobsleigh commentator Paul Dickenson says: "There is a weight limit on the combination of man + bob therefore the weight of the lycra suits is crucial - the higher the weight of the athletes clothes the lighter the man/woman will have to be. Therefore the clothes will be as light as possible in order to include the biggest and most powerful athletes available within the weight limit the FITB impose. Muscle is more important than warm clothing!"

Q: In the skeleton competition is there any advantage in being a heavier body build or a smaller framed lighter body? Tracey, England

BBC's Colin Bryce says: "The basic speed you slide at is affected by a number of factors - start speed, technique, equipment - and of course gravity!

If a 12-stone man slid down the course alongside a 10-stone man from a standing start there is a more than 50/50 chance that the heavier man would win providing their equipment and technique were equal. Therefore bodyweight plus equipment, providing it does not exceed the sports rules on 'all up weight' is crucial in view of the gravity element of the sliding sports.

Q: Why is it that in the ski jump event, the skiers extend fully after they have left the hill? Surely, if they extended before they left the hill, would they get more distance on the jump? Joe, Brackley, England

Paul Dickenson says: "An interesting question! Some of the super slow motion pictures do show the jumpers extending after the take off. I think there are two partial answers to your question; Timing of take off - this is crucial to the success of the jump and has to be executed perfectly, but when you are moving at 50mph plus, to take off at exactly the right point i.e. the end of the hill, is a very difficult skill. Some get it right/wrong/partially right!

Secondly - if you look at some of the world's best long jumpers, their take off is similar albeit on one leg. Running at 20 mph + planting the take off leg and extending at speed sounds easy but is a very difficult skill and full extension is not always possible until just after take off on the tips of the take off foot. Good question and one which I shall follow up!

Q: In the two and four-man bobsleigh do all the riders in the bob have to be inside when they cross the finish line? If one or more falls out/doesn't get in does the time count or are they DNF? James Finan, UK

Colin Bryce says: "All competitors must cross the line in contact with the bob otherwise they will be DNF. Dan Money was a good example in GB1 two-man when he was thrown out of the back after the crash, they could not continue in the competition whereas in the 4 man, all the athletes crossed the line inside the bob and are therefore eligible to compete in the remaining slides.

Q: Who names the new jumps in the half-pipe? Is it up to the creator or a ruling body?April Taylor, England

BBC snowboard commentator Ed Leigh: "Grabs are probably the most prominently named tricks., It is always the creator's right to name, most notably Tony Hawke named the Stale Fish, Chris Miller named the Indy and Neil Blender named the Lien Air. Shaun White's Double Cork 1080 has been broken down into technical terms - however, the trick that he pioneered in the Olympic final, now known as the Tomahawk, is an extension of the first inverted rotation to be named - the double McTwist, invented by Mike McGill."

Q: Could you please explain how it is that when the ice skaters both women & men do those fast spins, they don't become very dizzy? John & Elizabeth Woods, UK

BBC ice skating commentator Robin Cousins: "The short answer is they do get dizzy at the beginning of their careers but the learn to cope with it. The trick is to not close your eyes. You also need to find a spot to focus on while you rotate.

"An interesting aside is a story about figure skater Ronnie Robertson, who won the silver medal in 1956. He could spin so fast, an estimated 240 times a minute, that NASA studied him as they were trying to determine how astronauts could maintain balance in a weightless environment. Apparently they reached no conclusions as to why Robertson never became dizzy. "

Q: In terms of straight-line speed, and overall times, what is fastest: two-man or four-man bob, luge, or skeleton? Thank you. Thomas Lovegrove, Germany

BBC commentator Paul Dickenson: "It can depend on a number of factors - the type of track and the starting position on the track. For instance in Whistler the luge has been starting much lower down the track than the bob and skeleton (this is normal) and so therefore cannot reach the speeds that the higher starters achieve. Four-man bob is the fastest generally and the top speed achieved so far has been 153 kph but we do anticipate that we could see 160+ here - the Whistler track is potentially the fastest ever."

Q. Can a luge athlete easily change to doing Skeleton and vice-versa? How and why do they choose becoming a front or back athlete (if you know what I mean)? I think skeleton looks more difficult/dangerous than luge. Am I right? If I had to choose which to do I think I would choose the Luge. What about you? Angelina, Great Britain

Former GB bobsleigher Colin Bryce: "A number of athletes have changed successfully. Susi Erdmann of Germany was a luger and won a silver medal and went on to become a world champion in bob. Luge to skeleton has been done but in skeleton you certainly need to be a good sprinter at the start. In luge you start seated. They are both very difficult skills and it would be difficult to say which was the most difficult. Doubles luge may well be the most skilful of the luge/skeleton disciplines."

Q: A lot of commentators were saying that the women's downhill course was harder than the men's. Why don't they race the same course?
Nick Barrett, UK

Former GB Olympic skier Graham Bell says: "There are different rules concerning the length and vertical heights between men's and women's downhill courses. Traditionally the men's course is normally tougher but at these Olympics the women's was definitely the more technically challenging."

Q: I watched the women's downhill and was wondering, if I heard correctly, that the winner used men's skis for the event. Is this correct? If it is then I'm not surprised she won; it would be the same as allowing a competitor in a sailing event to use a larger sail than the rest, or allowing an F1 car to use wider tyres. Why isn't there standards for equipment?
Steve Guzy, England

Graham Bell says: "There are very detailed equipment rules set by the International Ski Federation but basically men are not allowed to use women's skis but women can race on men's skis. Women's skis tend to be shorter which allow the skier to turn more easily. Lindsey Vonn is big enough and strong enough to race on men's skis."

Q: Is there a time limit as to how long a team can confer over their next shot in curling?
Sue Whidborne, UK

Rhona Martin, Britain's 2002 gold-winning skip, says: "There is no limit over a particular shot but each match has to be completed within 73 minutes. Within that, there are two one-minute time-outs which can be taken at any time. If an extra end is needed, 10 more minutes are added to the time and another time-out. If a match is not completed within the time limit, the match is forfeited."




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