By Ben Haber
Imagine competing in a biking event at the Olympics and trying to train for a specific course while living on the other side of the world. While some of your competitors living in or around China have the ability to train on the exact hills and roads that they’ll be racing on, you have no such luxury, putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage.
This is the situation Kristin Armstrong faced, as she was training for the Women’s Road Cycling in Beijing. Looking for some way to simulate the Olympic course, Armstrong turned to Google for her answer
Armstrong and her coach traveled to Beijing to check out the 15-mile race, and decided to bring a GPS unit with them to get an elevation profile of the course. After returning home to the U.S., she was able to export the GPS data to several different formats, and using Google Earth, was able to trace the entire course and find a similar route to train on while at home.
Armstrong says that this technology provided her with an advantage that was invaluable in her preparation for the race, in which she took home the gold medal.
It seems like bikers and marathon runners could really benefit from this type of technology. The ability to see a get a feel for a course before you compete gives some people a major edge. Whether it’s a physical or mental edge can depend on the person, but as technology has advanced, sports have always found useful ways of taking advantage. From watching tape of your opponent before a game, using instant replay to reverse a call, and now simulating a racing course, it seems many athletes are benefitted by our always-developing technology.