A Cell Phone Wins The Halfpipe

14 Feb

Click to see Kaitlyn's video.

Click to see Kaitlyn’s video.

It’s the kind of story AT&T and Verizon only wish they could sell.

Standing at the start line of an Olympic event has got to be one of the loneliest places in the world. The years of practice and sacrifice all come down to what happens next.

All those who were there for you along the way are thousands of miles away. Unless they aren’t.

BugIn the case of USA halfpipe gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington, a cell phone pushed into her hands at just the last minute erased the miles, and the fears. Call it the ultimate delivery of courage.

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The information that matters

While NBC viewers were getting a pre-packaged, tape-delayed broadcast of the women’s halfpipe, ESPN was posting an amazing story of Farrington’s friends using technology to close the distance when she needed it most. She was the long shot of the US team, and about to make a run that would decide if she would even compete in the finals.

“Hey Kaitlyn, have you seen this yet?” asked the coach of the US team just moments before her run, according to Alyssa Roenigk. As the woman before her completed competition, Farrington watched a three-and-a-half minute good luck video from her friends and coaches back home.

“I felt like they were all there in the halfpipe with me,” Farrington told Roenigk. “They’ve all been there for me for so long, and that video was so special. Watching it, I thought, ‘Oh GOD This is SO Boring. Please Kill Me. I’ve come a long way.'”

And then she skied like never before, leap frogging over the competition and ultimately leading a US sweep of the competition. Just a little something to think about the next time someone you know is facing a big moment, all alone.


Click to see full NYTimes.com infographic.

Information That Matters

Somewhere along the way broadcasters decided that the Olympics were all about the people. No matter how amazing their performances were, it seems no story is complete without a gut-wrenching backstory. Thankfully the graphic artists at The New York Times didn’t get the memo.

Since the games began, the paper’s website has published a stunning gallery of interactive infographics that add depth to the skills, equipment, and scope of the games. A detailed explanation of  Ted Ligety’s innovation in the giant slalom is as stunningly beautiful as it is educational.

A package explaining the halfpipe with Shaun White should be required viewing before any NBC broadcast. Then there’s a visual effort to apply New York standards to the epic size of Sochi venues. For example, the image here is of the luge/bobsled track imposed over Times Square. That’s nothing compared to the description and visuals for the downhill skiing venue:

Alpine events would be challenging. But if you could fashion a facsimile of the 2.2-mile downhill course at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, it would tower over Central Park. Starting above 59th Street at a height of two Empire State Buildings, the course (without many of its notorious turns) would end on the ballfields of the North Meadow.

When you read that, suddenly the action on TV seems a little more terrifying. And that’s a whole lot better than a warm fuzzy moment about some competitor’s pet hamster.

About Project TILWO — I watch Sochi 2014 Olympic coverage on TV and online then share the lessons I learn, with occasional help from my friends. Edited by Lynn Hess @ Premier Proofing.