Olympics and Technology

Wow, what a day at the Olympics for Canada yesterday.  I arrive home to join into a Twitter conversation with a group of like minded Canadian Olympic fans.  Of course, we were there for the hockey but there was Women’s Curling Gold match first.

I don’t normally think of curling as a high interest sport but this match was spectacular.  When it was over, Canada was second on the podium with yet another Silver medal.  We were witness to one exciting event.  Throughout, I’m in conversation with @aforgrave, @pmcash, @baded, @imcguy, @DoremeGirl, @ron_mill, and more I’m sure.  As an aside, I’m having a back and forth with @aforgrave about the technology that’s used to give the television viewer the “next best thing to being there” experience.

We’ve seen technology enhance sports for years.  The electronic strike zone in baseball; the first down line in football and the puck with streamers in hockey.  During this Olympics, we’ve seen stop motion in speed skating, overlay of bobsleighs from competitors, and things like markings in the snow to define paths and depths of field for the athlete and television viewer.  Instant reply is a staple in all sports.  As seamlessly as it seems, my son who works in the business, tells me that there’s pressure in the studios to get it right and get it cued up and on time the moment that it’s required.

So, as Andy and I were chatting back and forth, we noted that each of the curlers had wireless microphones so that we could hear the strategies and the instructors given to the team members.  Well, at least half of the game.  My knowledge of the Swedish language is limited to the chef from the Muppets.  But, the volume and enthusiasm is unmistakable in any language.  Certainly, this was enjoyable and enhanced by the technology.

But, I couldn’t help but wonder if more technology could have been used.

If you’re ever curled, you know that it is next to impossible to throw a rock straight now the ice.  The motion of the rock grips the ice altering the path and the efforts of the sweepers affect the rules of physics to minimize or exaggerate the effect.  It’s true testament to the skip that can orchestrate this as the ice changes throughout the map.

If you’ve ever programmed in Flash, you’ll know about onion skinning.  It seems to me that this would be awesome to incorporate in the televised coverage of Curling.  It’s appropriate too as Curling has its own skins game as an option to make the game more exciting.  So, why not introduce some skinning to the replays?


For those new to the sport, it would greatly enhance just what is happening on the ice.  Curling is a hugely strategic sport and to be able to see the red Canadian rocks traverse the path would be awesome.  (Of course, they might not make that sharp a turn!).  For the experienced viewer, it would provide some insight to the game plan that the skip is calling.  It would also give us an idea of what starting and stopping and starting sweeping during a throw does to the path of the stone.

I think that it would be a great technology to incorporate and CTV, whose coverage has been superb, has all morning to work on it before the Men’s final later today.

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4 thoughts on “Olympics and Technology

  1. Yes! I’m sure CTV will get right on that and have it ready for the men’s final!

    As I write this comment, I note once again the incredible detail present in SEGA’s “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games – Vancouver 2010,” (Wii) right down to the animation of the driver’s push handle at the start of the 2-man bobsleigh, which drops down flush with the sleigh as soon as Sonic gets seated. There’s no doubt an amazing level of interplay between sports, technology, and the media in the 2010 Olympics. Amazing!


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