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经济学人科技系列(音频+翻译):东京奥运会--厚底鞋归来,你值得拥有!

日期: 来源:比比西英语网

Science & technology

科技板块

Sports equipment

体育用品

Getting a leg up

抢占上风

New running shoes could help smash a string of Olympic records

新型跑鞋有望打破一系列奥运纪录

Platform shoes are back in fashion, at least in athletics. Many of the long-distance runners at the Tokyo Olympics, which begin on July 23rd, will arrive at the starting line sporting footwear with a distinctive chunky-looking heel. It will be more than just a fashion statement. The new shoes offer such a big performance advantage that critics have described them as "technological doping".

厚底鞋又开始流行了,至少在田径场上是这样。在7月23日开幕的东京奥运会上,许多长跑运动员都将穿着一双特别炸眼的厚底运动鞋抵达起跑线。这种新款鞋将不仅仅是一种时尚宣言,它在性能上也有很大的优势,以至于批评者将其描述为“技术兴奋剂”。

Running-shoe makers have long tried to boost athletic performance, observes Geoff Burns, a biomechanics expert at the University of Michigan. In olden days, a 1% improvement in "running economy"—the energy taken to travel a given distance—would have impressed. But in 2016 Nike released the first version of its "Vaporfly" model, which improved running economy by 4%.

密歇根大学的生物力学专家杰夫·伯恩斯表示,跑鞋制造商一直在努力提高运动员的表现。在过去,如果“跑步经济性”(跑一定距离所消耗的能量)提高1%就会让人印象深刻。而在2016年,耐克发布了第一个版本的“Vaporfly”模型,使跑步经济性提高了4%。

If that percentage were to translate directly into performance, it would knock about five minutes off an elite male's marathon time. In practice, as Dr Burns observes, it wouldn't quite do that. A marathon improvement of around 90 seconds would be a more realistic expectation. But Vaporfly and its successors have helped athletes smash a string of records. On June 6th Sifan Hassan, a Dutch runner, completed a women's 10,000 metres race in 29 minutes and 6.82 seconds, beating a record set in 2016. Two days later she was overtaken by Letesenbet Gidey, an Ethiopian, who clocked 29 minutes and 1.03 seconds. In 2019 Eliod Kipchoge, a Kenyan, became the first to run, albeit in an unofficial event, a marathon's distance of 42.195km in undertwo hours. The same weekend Brigid Kosgei, another Kenyan, broke a women's marathon record that had stood for 16 years.

如果将该百分比直接转化为成绩,那么一位优秀男运动员的马拉松时间将减少5分钟左右。然而,正如伯恩斯博士所观察到的,在实践中它并不能完全实现这一点。在马拉松比赛中提高90秒左右是比较现实的期望。而Vaporfly及其系列鞋已经帮助运动员打破了一系列记录。6月6日,荷兰选手斯凡·哈桑以29分6.82秒的成绩完成了女子10000米的比赛,打破了2016年创下的纪录。两天后,埃塞俄比亚选手Letesenbet Gidey以29分1.03秒的成绩超越了她。2019年,肯尼亚人埃利奥德·基普乔格在两小时内跑完42.195公里的马拉松,成为第一个跑完全程的人,尽管这是一项非官方赛事。就在同一个周末,另一名肯尼亚人布里吉德·科斯盖打破了保持了16年的女子马拉松纪录。

Scientists are still puzzling over exactly how the shoes work. The soles are made of a new type of foam that offers an unprecedented mix of resilience and squidginess, according to Dr Burns. This returns around 80% of the energy from each strike of a runner's foot. The carbon-fibre plate may help by stiffening the midsole, and possibly by altering a runner's gait. By cushioning a runner's bones, muscles and ligaments from repetitive impacts, the shoes may even help athletes train harder than they otherwise could.

科学家们对于该鞋的工作原理仍感到困惑。据伯恩斯博士表示,该款鞋鞋底由一种新型泡沫材料制成,这种材料具有前所未有的弹性和柔软性,能够将跑步者每一次脚部撞击所产生的能量的80%返还给跑步者。碳纤维板可以帮助加强鞋底的硬度,似乎还可以改变跑步者的步态。这种鞋甚至可以通过缓冲跑步者的骨骼、肌肉和韧带免受不断的冲击来帮助运动员进行比平时更艰苦的训练。

All that is great news for Nike, which sells the Vaporfly and its successors for around $250 each. (Rival manufacturers now offer similar shoes of their own.) Whether it is good for the sport is another question. Different sports have different tolerances for technological assistance. Running tends towards the conservative end of the spectrum.

这一切对耐克来说都是好消息,他们以每双250美元左右的价格销售Vaporfly及其系列鞋。(竞争对手现在也在提供类似鞋。)然而对这项运动是否有益则是另一个问题。不同的运动对技术援助有不同的容忍度,而跑步倾向于保守的一端。

In January 2020 World Athletics, the governing body of international athletics, passed new rules limiting the thickness of a road shoe's sole to 40mm. Meanwhile, Nike appears to have shelved plans to deploy high tech shoes designed for sprinters at the Tokyo games, possibly because they did not comply with regulations either. But if they, or a rival manufacturer, have worked out a way around that problem, there could be fireworks in the sprints, too.

2020年1月,国际田径管理机构世界田联通过了新规定,将路用鞋的鞋底厚度限制在40毫米。与此同时,耐克似乎已经搁置了在东京奥运会上为短跑运动员设计的高科技运动鞋的计划,可能是因为它们不符合规定。但如果他们或竞争对手已经找到了解决这个问题的方法,那么在短跑比赛中也可能会擦出火花。

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