Here we are at the Winter Olympics once again, the home of patriotism, teamwork, athleticism, and technology? Yes, technology, the Winter Olympics is full of it. Just two years ago I can remember reporters discussing how changes to swimsuits have lead to faster swimming, and even then I couldn’t help but think of how much bigger a part technology plays in the Winter Olympics, and how much of an effect it probably has on the outcome.

The Winter Olympics definitely outweighs the Summer Olympics in the “gear” category. From bobsleds to skis, from ice skates to guns, gear is the name of the game at the Winter Olympics. It might just not be the best man who wins, but the man with the best equipment who wins in Vancouver.

I believe the king of the Winter Olympics technology has got to be the bobsled. In a sport where every second counts the quality of the equipment is going to matter that much more. An olympic bobsled can cost upwards of $100,000 USD. This is just an insane amount of money, you want to talk about a sport for only the rich. Polo has nothing on bobsledding.

I can’t help but imagine how well a $100,000 USD bobsled would perform compared to a $5,000 USD bobsled. With years of testing in wind tunnels, scientists fine tuning every angle, and air drag cut down to near zero, I’d hate to believe that the difference between gold and silver medals might come down to the research and money put in by the host country to develop a high quality sled.

I just don’t believe that technology should play such a large part in the Olympics. I think the winner of the gold medal should be the most dedicated and talented team, not the group of guys thrown together in a sled that costs more than the combined income of my wife and I. That is just ridiculous. In this day of multi thousand dollar snowboards and uniforms made of materials originally designed for NASA, I’ve got to say, what’s the point?


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James Bathgate writes a monthly technology column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in Reality Bytes.

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