Feb 17 Teams striving for medals from the 2014
Winter Olympics in Sochi are turning to video analysis apps to
help them fine-tune their performance and give them a
"We only get a handful of (practice) runs, specifically six
runs of official training, which is why video analysis becomes
crucial," said Scott Novack, director of high performance for
the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
The team uses Ubersense, an app for iOS devices, to review
runs in slow motion and to compare them side-by-side.
"The Sochi track has three uphill sections, and it's very
long. If you lose speed uphill by hitting one of the walls, it
can slow you down by hundredths of a second, and in this sport
that could be the difference between getting the gold or silver
medals, or not getting a medal at all," Novack said in an
interview from the Sochi.
Several people stand at different curves that present
challenges and use the app to record the performance. The clips
are automatically synched across all devices, allowing the main
coach to review them and identify where improvements can be
"He knows the start times and down times of every video and
he can figure out where the athletes gain speed and where they
lose it and then make adjustments," Novack said.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the team used a
more complex configuration incorporating a Slingbox, which is a
TV streaming device, to analyze the live broadcast of their
"In between runs, we were reviewing the video and that
helped contribute to the two Olympic medals that we were able to
get in Vancouver," Novack said, referring to the team's gold
for their four-man bobsled team, and the bronze for the
two-woman bobsled team.
Olympic athletes and their trainers also use Coach's Eye,
which is available for iOS, Android and Windows 8 devices. The
program lets them review videos in slow motion, highlight areas
for improvement, zoom and focus on particular areas, and add
text and audio commentary.
Michel Hamelin, the coach of Canadian skier Alex Bilodeau
who won a gold medal in men's moguls in Sochi, said in an email
from Sochi that the app made it "easier to compare two runs with
the side-by-side video comparison, and quickly make
"Having the video review system on their iPad means coaches
are able to take it out there on the hill filming wherever they
are practicing or training, " said Mike Kujansuu, marketing
manager for Coach's Eye at the Michigan-based company TechSmith.
Sometimes coaches will follow an athlete down the hill on
skis to get the best recording angle, he added.
Mike Willard, CEO of California-based Sportstec USA, which
makes video analysis software and apps, said that at the elite
level the difference between gold, silver, bronze and nothing is
He added that analyzing the competition to understand
weaknesses is just as crucial as analyzing one's own
"If it's a direct competition sport, you're not competing
against the clock, you're going to look at your competition
carefully," he said.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Amanda Kwan)