March 04, 2006

Time for updated clocks?: This is something I noticed in the Torino luge & bobsled events -- the times are shaved so damn close, it's perhaps time for newer and more accurate clocks that measure speed 1/1000th of a second instead of 1/100's. Yesterday Kitchener's Kelly Vanderbeek came 4th in a World Cup Super-G ski event. But she was only 1/100th of a second behind the winner. That's right, the three women in front of her standing on the podium (Lindsey Kildow, Michaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Stygerall) had the same time: 1 minute, 18.65 seconds. Vanderbeek was .01 seconds back in 4th place. Is it time we started splitting the 1/100ths?

posted by the red terror to other at 01:45 PM - 6 comments

"Only 0.12 separated the top eight skiers one of the tightest finishes in alpine ski history."

posted by the red terror at 01:48 PM on March 04, 2006

Australian V8 Supercars already use timing to four decimal places, so ten thousandth of a second. F1 has used timing to the thousandth for over 20 years. Can't understand why they haven't adopted it in all timed sports. Do the timing companies charge more for more accuracy?

posted by Drood at 02:37 PM on March 04, 2006

The more accuracy the better...as a scientist I find that the closer my measurements are, the better the data...and if we have the technology to do so, then hells yeah, we should use it... It could be ALL the difference between a medal and a 4th place finish...

posted by chemwizBsquared at 01:42 AM on March 05, 2006

I was asking this question during the olympics. And then I was asking, if everyone in the top ten of an event is within a couple hundredths of a second of one another, can you really say any one of them is better than any other? In the case of downhill skiing, maybe the fourth plave finisher ran into a slight breeze, or a tiny bump left by the last racer. I think at that level of detail, winning or losing is beyond human control. It's not necessarily the athletes you are measuring, it's circumstance. Still, you gotta measure something, right?

posted by fabulon7 at 07:04 PM on March 05, 2006

But don't confuse precision and accuracy. Just because you make your clocks more precise doesn't mean that you can actually measure the time on the course to a thousandth or a ten-thousandth of a second. If that last digit is just random noise, then you aren't measuring anything; you're just giving the illusion of a measurement.

posted by Amateur at 07:40 PM on March 05, 2006

I think at that level of detail, winning or losing is beyond human control. It's not necessarily the athletes you are measuring, it's circumstance. It's interesting, though. In the luge/bobsleigh, the margins are incredibly slim, and yet appear to be repeatable. They run four heats, and the same guy wins all four by a few hundredths of a second -- or maybe 1st,2nd,2nd,1st. That suggests that it is not random, and that you can actually measure these small differences between the athletes (or their sleds, but that's a different issue). Alipine skiing is quite different. I bet if you ran the same downhill course thirty times in a month, you would get twenty different podiums. So even though the margins are bigger, the 'random chance' factor is higher.

posted by Amateur at 07:50 AM on March 06, 2006

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