Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic-Sized Glitch

Massive glitch with the Biathlon, in the men's pursuit. The guys have a staggered start, with the delay based on their result with the earlier sprint event. They had several starting chutes, with officials up at the front with, like, a hand on the athlete's middle or something, watching the clock and letting them go when they were supposed to. (Multiple chutes because there are some people starting like a second apart, so you need people able to start almost simultaneously.)

Which is all fine and they've been running the sport like this for ages, but today someone's messing up royally. There was a little ?? at first, with people sort of squinting and going, "Wait, what...?" Then one competitor, Leguellec of Canada, was supposed to start 41 seconds after the person in front of him, but at the first time check he was right up there with the pack. Unless he had a jet assist, that's impossible, so clearly he was let go way too early. Teela of the US was also let go at the wrong time, and they just mentioned Ferry of Sweden.

The best fix at this point seems to be to figure out how early (or late, if there was any of that) each person went, and then add or subtract time at the end. But that doesn't completely fix things; the way you ski, how you push, depends on where you are in the race, who's around you, when you approach someone ahead of you or are approached by someone behind. Where you are makes a difference, and that's all different now. Also, the athletes are used to being able to judge where they are in the race, but now Leguellec doesn't know; he can cross the finish line first and still not get the gold, or get any medal at all perhaps, after his time's adjusted. Maybe he'd have made it up if he'd had the press of being another 41 seconds back and maybe not, but we don't know.

This is a really awful error. Maybe not quite as bad as the vaulting fiasco at Sydney, but it seems to be in the same ballpark. :/

ADDED: they're adjusting the timing on the standings graphics now, but the competitors are still out on the course in the wrong places. The timing might be correct now, but the dynamics of the race are still out of whack.



Steve Malley said...

I like the basic idea of biathalon: skiing and shooting. But doing it cross-country seems kind of tame.

I'd like to see them combine downhill skiing with skeet shooting-- now THAT would be exciting!

On TV, of course... no way you'd want to be in the stands for that one! lol

Angie said...

Steve -- LOL! Okay, yeah, that could be pretty exciting to watch. :D


Travis Erwin said...

I'm with Steve.

Angie said...

Travis -- I'll grant you that'd spice things up a bit, but it would've been just as much of a problem if the officials hadn't been able to keep starting times straight, no matter how the athletes were shooting or what they were shooting at. [wry smile]