Fourth-Place Medal

The mystery of why spinning figure skaters don't get dizzy

When watching figure skating on Tuesday night, the Fourth-Place Medal Investigative Unit wondered aloud how the women could spin so much without getting nauseated. It brought back tough memories of riding the teacups at Disney World in 1989. But then we thought, "We're the Fourth-Place Medal Investigative Unit, darn it. We don't make mysteries, we solve them." And, with that, the Case of the Not-Dizzy Skaters was born.

Some background: The FPMIU doesn't know our Salchows from our Lutzes, and we think of a 1980s band or movie trilogy whenever we hear the word "axel."

Still, we can't help but get into skating every four years during the Olympics. And that's mostly because of the spinning. One can't help but wonder: How do skaters spin so fast for so long without getting dizzy?

The answer, it turns out, is deceptively simple. It's the same reason fighter pilots can hit 5 G's without problem and acrobats can do flips and still keep their balance: They're used to it.

Joe Rosato Jr. from NBC Washington talked to a former pro skater, who keyed him into the secret:

Former National skating champion Shane Douglas said the key to getting over dizziness is to keep skating. "What we tell our students is keep spinning," said Douglas. "The more you do, the less dizzy you get." Douglas said it could take skaters about a year to get used to the dizziness.

So, skaters initially get dizzy, but then it becomes second nature. That's how we felt when we first got our monocle.

Techniques for initially dealing with the dizziness include staring at a fixed point, closing your eyes, and concentrating on something else.

Bonus fact: We mentioned it above, so we had to check it out. The jumps called Salchow, Lutz and axel all come from the names of their respective founders, Ulrich Salchow, Alois Lutz and Axel Paulsen.

The Winter Games may be winding down, but the Fourth-Place Medal Investigative Unit presses on (our copy of that "Saved by the Bell" where they go on the murder mystery weekend has sustained us when there's no Olympic coverage on TV). If you have an Olympic mystery you'd like solved, leave it in the comments or ask us on Twitter.

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