With less than a year to go until the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Worldwide Olympic Partner OMEGA has unveiled the timing equipment that will be used during the Winter Games, which are due to begin on 8 February 2014.
The OMEGA timekeeping system includes an electronic start system, light-sensitive devices at the finish line and photo-finish cameras capable of taking 2,000 shots per second. Competitors will also wear lightweight transponders on their legs, making it possible for OMEGA to measure, record and display the intermediate times and rankings of the participating athletes while the races are taking place.
The electronic starting system, which was first introduced by OMEGA for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, is composed of a flashgun and a sound generation box.
“With the new device, when the starter presses its trigger, three things happen simultaneously: a sound is ‘played’, a light flash is emitted and a start pulse is given to the timing device,” explains Peter Hürzeler, OMEGA Timing Board Member. “By pressing the trigger a second time within two seconds, the false start will be audibly signalled.”
At the end of the race, the skates of each competitor trigger highly sensitive photoelectric cells as they cross the line, which are used to determine the finishing times of each athlete. The OMEGA Scan ‘O’ Vision photo-finish camera, which was first introduced for Vancouver 2010, is also used to determine the official finishing times of the competitors in a race.
“The combined use of photoelectric cell technology and photo-finish images changed sports timekeeping forever,” adds Hürzeler. “During the speed skating events, as soon as a competitor’s skate crosses the finish line, the running times on the scoreboard and television superimpositions are stopped – but ultimately it is the photo-finish camera that has measured and captured the result that will be deemed official.”