March 11, 2013

    Photo: MaryHDennis3/YouTube

Climber's 330-Foot Fall Caught on Video

Man survives with minor injuries

Ever wondered what it would be like to fall off a mountain? Now you have some idea, courtesy of a British ice climber whose 330-foot fall was captured by his helmet camera. Mark Roberts, 47, was climbing Parsley Fern Gulley, an easy route on one of Wales' highest mountains, late last month when a falling chunk of ice knocked him off his stance and sent him sliding down the mountain.

Roberts finally came to a stop when his pack and crampons caught on a ledge. "I was a little dazed and knew there was some damage to my ankles, which were fairly painful if they were moved," he told the BBC. A mountain rescue team, which was training nearby, quickly reached Roberts, and he was soon flown out by Royal Air Force helicopter.

It's hard to believe it after watching this, but he got away with just a broken ankle.



    Photo: YouTube

MIT Unveils Hyper-Fast Cheetah Robot

Rivals animal in running efficiency

Today in Things That Don’t Bode Well for Humanity’s Future, MIT researchers have designed a robot “cheetah” that can rival its real-world counterpart in running efficiency. While most legged robots, such as Boston Dynamic’s “Big Dog,” are weighed down by heavy gasoline engines, hydraulics, or large battery packs, MIT’s “cheetah,” which we will call "Cheetor," uses lightweight electric motors in its shoulders that produce high torque with little wasted energy.

According to assistant professor Sangbae Kim, this advance in energy efficiency will allow robots like Cheetor to be self-sufficient aides in emergency situations. “In order to send a robot to find people or perform emergency tasks, like in the Fukushima disaster, you want it to be autonomous,” says Kim. “One of the reasons why people think it’s impossible to make an electric robot that does this is because efficiencies have been pretty bad.”

In addition to its lightweight frame (just 70 pounds), and high-efficiency motor, Cheetor also uses a kinetic feedback loop to power itself, much like the regenerative braking process in electric cars. As the robot’s legs strike the ground, its electric motors capture the energy and feed it back into the system, further powering Cheetor’s ascent to supremacy.

In other news, global leaders announced today “it’s pretty much time to just pack it in, you guys,” adding, “I mean, have you seen these things? Jeez.”


How can one so cute cause so much trouble?     Photo: Mark Caunt/Shutterstock

Marten Runs Amok During Soccer Match

Bites players, wreaks havoc

A soccer match in Switzerland on Sunday was interrupted when an extra player ran onto the field—an extra-furry player, that is. A wild marten repeatedly dodged attempts at capture, leading to an endless supply of hilarious GIFs.

Zurich defender Loris Benito managed to grab the animal, but was promptly bitten. The marten then made a dash into the stands before running back down onto the field. He was ultimately caught by a goalie, who sensibly wore gloves in preparation for wild animal attacks. Video of the play is definitely worth a gander:


    Photo: McSmit/Wikimedia Commons

French Cyclist Jalabert Struck by Car

Former pro seriously injured

Retired French cyclist Laurent Jalabert was seriously injured this morning after being struck by a car while on his bike. Jalabert, winner of the 1995 Tour of Spain and the 1997 world time trial championships, was hit by an oncoming car in Motauban, a town in southern France.

From Reuters:

"He is not in danger," a spokesman said.

The vehicle suddenly turned left, cutting across Jalabert who had the right of way, the police said.

The 41-year-old suffered several fractures and was briefly unconscious when the emergency services arrived.

He was transferred to hospital to undergo surgery, a source close to the former rider told French radio RTL.

While it appears that Jalabert will recover—and while he’s no longer a professional cyclist—this accident still gets at a larger, un-answered question that’s swirling around the cycling world, as Caty Enders wrote earlier this year after South African Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander was killed by a taxi: 

Considering the number of high-profile—and often tragic—cyclist/car collisions in the past couple years (Iñaki Lejarreta, killed; Bradley Wiggins, injured; Euskaltel Cabedo, killed; Carla Swart, killed—too many to name) have training rides become the most dangerous element of any pro sport? And what will it take for that to change?


Ted Ligety won two golds in Austria.     Photo: Fotoblitz1/Flickr

Ted Ligety Clinches World Cup Giant Slalom

Skier wins discipline a fourth time

American skier Ted Ligety clinched his fourth World Cup in Giant Slalom after winning his fifth event of the season on Saturday. "To win here again is a super cool feeling," said Ligety, who has won in Kranjska Gora five times and claimed the GS title with one event left in the season. "I am really proud of that."

Ligety stood on the podium in all seven GS events this season, a feat last accomplished by Michael von Gruenigen of Switzerland in 1995-96. Ligety dominated despite being vocally opposed to a rule change in ski length and shape effected by the FIS this season.

In 2011, the FIS announced a change to require longer, straighter skis for safety purposes in the 2012/2013 season. Ligety said the change was unfounded and doubted whether it would lead to fewer injuries. Once the season started, he won some races so handily that other skiers asked the FIS to check his skis. The FIS said they met regulations. Ligety said that the new regulations gave him an advantage over other skiers.

"It takes a little bit different technique," Ligety said. "A lot of guys are trying to ski like they did in the past, but that makes them much slower in many conditions. I can ski pretty similar to the way I did before as my technique matches up better with these skis."

To read about Ligety's original disagreement with the FIS, read the 2011 story, "Behind the Curve." For more on Ligety's win this season, visit ESPN.