This morning HalaMadrid posted a cool fact that Ronaldo's free kicks were around 60 mph against FC Zurich this week, and comparing it to Becks, Alves, and Ronaldinho (all slower) and Robert Carlos (faster). Certainly that makes those shots tougher to save, but as bzimzim commented, even at that speed if the shot is straight at the keeper, he has to make that save. I agree. The second of Ronaldo's goals should have been saved. The ball moved some, yes, but Ronaldo has had other shots with more movement, and this one was still right at the keeper.
Anyway, this reminded me of how MLS used to have stupid challenges at their stupid all-star game, much like the NHL has (though I do like some of the NHL all-star stuff). Zach Thornton, a keeper, won a few in a row, with his shots coming in at about 81 mph according to the radar gun.
After some further digging, it turns out The Guardian analyzed the archives of shots recorded by the Sky Sports Replay 2000 tracking machine. Remember, this is very unofficial, and it's (a) from Feb 2007, so it doesn't include Ronaldo's efforts since that time, (b) these are one-offs and not how someone shoots on average, and (c) the games tracked are basically only those involving English teams, with one exception - the famous Roberto Carlos goal against France.
Here's the list:
1) David Hirst - 114mph (for Sheffield Wednesday @ Arsenal on September 16 1996)
2) David Beckham - 97.9mph (for Man Utd v Chelsea on February 22 1997)
3) David Trezeguet - 96mph (for Monaco @ Man Utd on March 19 1998)
4) Richie Humphreys - 95.9mph (for Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa on August 17 1996)
5) Matt Le Tissier - 86.8mph (for Southampton v Newcastle on January 18 1997)
6) Alan Shearer - 85.8mph (for Newcastle v Leicester on February 2 1997)
7) Roberto Carlos - 85.2mph (for Brazil v France on June 3 1997)
8) Tugay - 84.2mph (for Blackburn @ Southampton on November 3 2001)
9) Obafemi Martins - 84mph (for Newcastle @ Tottenham on January 14 2007)
10) David Beckham - 80.5mph (for Man Utd @ Derby on September 4 1996)
For comparison, here are the Real Madrid-Zurich highlights, including Ronaldo's shots:
And here is the unofficial fastest shot recorded by David Hirst (note he didn't even score, he hits the crossbar - at 0:33 of the clip):
For fun, here's one more thunderbolt that's not on the list, by Steven Reid. The page says it was 189kmh, or about 117mph. This is a hell of a shot:
The final shot, by Ronny Heberson, was supposedly tracked at 222kmh, or almost 138mph.
On the more technical side, this article/blog discusses the science of Ronaldo's shots, namely that the way he strikes the ball with no spin is the key. This allows the shots to go fast for a longer distance than others. However, a sports technology researcher says it's not possible to hit a shot 132mph, but that the high 80s was doable for shots tracked at training grounds. What do you think?