TEAM USA’s JESSICA DIGGINS AND KIKKAN RANDALL CELEBRATE AFTER WINNING GOLD IN THE WOMENS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM SPRINT AT THE PYEONGCHANG 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Team USA’s Kikkan Randall and Jesse Diggins made history today becoming the first Americans to win a gold medal in Cross Country Skiing. Winning the Womens Team Sprint by just 0.19 seconds, their victory was too close to capture with the naked eye and was decided by a photo finish. The Men’s 15km Mass Start Biathlon was won by a similarly narrow margin in another photofinish earlier this week.
Omega is the Official Timekeeper of Olympic games, and has fulfilled that role for 27 Olympics since 1932, when the games were timed with just 30 chronograph stopwatches. Among Omega’s many contributions to sports timing since has been the development of photoelectric cells. First used in 1948 in St. Moritz, a highly reactive beam of light was emitted onto the finish line. It stopped the timer as soon as the first athlete crossed it, measuring to 1000th of a second.
TOP: PYEONGCHANG 2018, WOMENS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM SPRINT, TEAM USA’S JESSICA DIGGINS CROSSING THE FINISH LINE JUST AHEAD OF SWEDEN’S STINA NILSSON; RIO 2016, WOMENS 400M FINAL, BAHAMAS’ SHAUNAE MILLER FALLS ACROSS FINISH LINE AHEAD OF USA’S ALLYSON FELIX
This technology was integrated into a new slit technology photofinish camera that captured a sequence of events through a narrow field of vision from a single point on a vertical dimension. While a conventional photograph shows a variety of locations at a fixed moment in time, a photo finish shows a variety of times at a fixed location. The time markings along the bottom of the image show the exact crossing time of any racer, and the elevated angle highlights the position of every racer in relation to the others. What results are these beautifully abstract and elongated horizontal streaks of the athletes bodies crossing the finish line.
In 1992 OMEGA introduced its new Scan’O’Vision system in Albertville, and the newest model, the Scan’O’Vision MYRIA, is now in place in Pyeongchang. Able to digitally capture 10,000 images per second, it can measure a victory of .002 seconds shown below, while rendering these photofinishes into true works of art.
TOP: PYEONGCHANG 2018, .002 SECONDS SEPARATED THE GOLD AND SILVER MEDAL IN THE MENS 5000M SPEED SKATING; BOTTOM: ROME 1960, GERMAN CARL KAUFMANN THROWS HIMSELF HEADFIRST ACROSS THE FINISH LINE IN THE MENS 400M FINAL, BUT AMERICAN OTIS DAVIS CROSSED THE LINE WITH HIS CHEST.01 SECONDS EARLIER