Coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics

Living in Canada we are very lucky with the quality of the Olympics coverage on television. CBC in the past and now CTV have done a great job of covering a lot of the events live. Our southern neighbours have not been so lucky, with NBC showing most coverage off tape and only during prime time. This means that alternatives for those Olympic fanatics has become very important.

Both CTV and NBC have introduced special websites for the Olympics, that have been streaming lots of events live. Both sites have news, photo galleries, videos and lots of background information on events and athletes. CTV’s Olympics site has a handy schedule on the right hand side showing which TV channels are showing events live. The quality of the online live video streaming has been good from the CTV website.

Kudos to VANOC for the quality of the main Vancouver 2010 Olympics website. Featuring a nice design with lots of useful features, my favourite being the schedule and results page. This page provides a quick snapshot of what events are coming up next and results from finished events. The site features live converge of results which works OK. This is not video but shows graphics of what is happening and detailed results of times (split and final). I think this idea is great, good for people at work who want to follow along but don’t want to be caught watching a live video feed. It seems to have a few glitches, but so far updates seem close to real time. It would be great to see this idea improved upon, I think adding some indication between races to indicate what is going on next would help.

On the TV side the HD quality has been great. The sound of the crowd with the surround sound really creates a live feel. The slow motion replays really give you a detailed look at the forces applied to the competitors’ bodies. The video overlay showing the difference between competitors is really cool, this idea may have come from car racing computer games, it is crazy to see how just a small difference around one ski gate can cause a huge difference in speed.

On Bell TV they have again done the single channel that shows 6 channels at one time. Great if you are trying to watch more then one event at a time. You can select which channels audio is being played by moving the selector box. Also on Bell there are now 5 Olympic HD channels that are showing the live raw feed from up to 5 venues at the same time. No commentary, no annoying commercials, just pure sports coverage. This has been great for watching events that aren’t being picked up by the main channels.

Mobile coverage of the Olympics has certainly improved. Both NBC and CTV have apps for the iPhone/iPod touch which a very good for keeping track of results and medal accounts. Also VANOC has put out an amazing app, mostly for those people at the games, schedule, results and maps. Two features it has that are well thought out is using your location it adjust event start times to your local time and the same live results that the main VANOC site supports.

If anyone else has found something worth checking out leave a description and link in the comments.

33rd America’s Cup

Well if you are a sailing fan then you probably already know that the 33rd America’s Cup regatta begins this Monday, Feb 8th, 2010.  For those of you that aren’t sailing fans let me see if I can convince you that this deserves some attention.

A Brief History

It is called the America’s Cup after the boat America, which in 1851 obliterated the 14 fastest British boats in a race around the Isle of Wight, winning the trophy that would be come the America’s Cup.  Since then the America’s Cup has featured some of the most famous races in sailing history. It is the oldest trophy in international sport, too much history for me to cover here.  If you want more America’s Cup History.

Race Format

The America’s Cup is raced in a format called match racing.  There are only two boats on the course, racing only against each other and not the clock.  The tactics employed are very different from traditional fleet racing.  The format produces some amazing close races that make great TV viewing.  The format even has its own set of match racing rules, which if you are knew to this racing  format are good to know.

The Boats

The America’s Cup races have been sailed in an eclectic style of boats.  In my mind the most famous match up being the first America’s Cup held in San Diego, of a 18 metre catamaran Stars and Stripes against the massive 27 metre monohull New Zealand.   This bizarre match up marked the end of the 12-metre era of racing and would see the era of the America’s Cup class arrive.  For the 33rd America’s Cup the boats again are going to be a wild match up, the size of boat set to be 30 X 30 metres, with both teams choosing multi-hull designs.  Expect some very fast racing.

How to Watch

It sadly looks like there will be no live TV coverage of the race in North America, but live streaming via the official site will be available for free.  Racing is in Europe so you will have to be up early to see them.  So here are a list of other places to get some information, video and photos of the racing.

I hope you will take the time to check out what shaping up to be the fastest America’s Cup ever.

And now a little video trailer as my final plug.