Sunday, February 12, 2006

More Olympics Blogging 

[Updated below]

That's right--more of the insightful analysis of the Winter Olympics you've come to expect from G&G. I just watched the Men's Downhill--in general, it was not compelling television, but Anoine Deneriaz, a Frenchman, had a pretty exciting run to win, I guess. But, more interesting is a couple of great technological developments NBC employed. First was showing static images of the skier coming off the first jump superimposed on one another--you saw 10 or so shots of the skier coming down, with the effect of being able to see his exact trajectory in a way you can't just by watching live. The second was some sort of simul-cast thing of two skiers at once, so you could see how Deneriaz won the race of that first jump--he came into the jump even with the silver medalist, but when the landed, he was a good body-length ahead. Good stuff.

Now watching short-rack speed skating. Pretty good stuff, but I can't say I know a thing about the strategy and whatnot.

UPDATE: King Kaufman touches on these topics and then some in Monday's column. First, he has a suggestion so seemingly obvious concerning the simulcast I'm pretty embarrassed that I didn't think to mention it below:
SimulCam is the result of a partnership between Sportvision -- the company that brought you the yellow first-down line, among other things -- and a sports video analysis company called Dartfish.

Here's a technical innovation that would make downhill skiing a lot more fun to watch: Live SimulCam.

You know how the TV graphic shows the leader's time at each split and compares the current racer's time to it instantly? That's helpful, because to the layperson, a great run down the hill looks exactly the same as one that's only pretty good. So you find yourself watching the clock, not the skier, to find out how he's doing.

Clearly, a great idea. Now, on to luge:
Luge: The ultimate Winter Olympics sport

So the luge is on and I'm thinking out loud: "Who invented this sport, anyway?" The wife says, "I think drunken college students."

A little online research, not that you can trust this Internet thing, reveals it was really 19th century Alpine loggers, who'd race each other home down the logging roads.

Same difference.

To me, the luge is the ultimate Winter Olympics sport. Not only does every run look exactly alike, with tenths of a second separating winners from also-rans in a three-minute-plus race, but the athletes don't even move.

"Look how flat and relaxed he is on the sled!" the announcers will say as a luger zooms down the course on his back, motionless. All around the world, kids burst into kitchens shouting, "Hey, Mom and Dad! I saw a guy today and he was flat, relaxed and immobile!"

"So did I," says Dad, an undertaker.

The worst thing about luge is that the crashes aren't even spectacular. A crash means the guy slides down the run next to his sled instead of on top of it.

Luge couldn't have been invented by drunken college students. They'd have thought of a few interesting twists.

I'd like to see the "ghost image" of the leader's run on the screen with the live skier as he goes down the mountain, so it looks like the two are racing down the hill. That would look like a real competition, instead of like a race against the clock.

Pretty much.

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