February 11, 2022

Analytics in the Winter Olympics

With the Winter Olympics now underway, we thought that it would be a perfect time to highlight a few places where you can learn more about how some of these niche sports are using analytics to improve competition.

The first sport to highlight is the winter olympics darling, curling. In 2019, at our very own SSAC, there was a research paper presented that discussed some analytic improvements to the game that is “like chess on ice” according to conference co-chair Daryl Morey. Download the paper here.

Speed skating is another sport using analytics; this time to identify talent using historical performance data. Dutch skaters typically fare well at the Winter Olympics, in no small part to Jac Orie, who has been the head coach of the Dutch team since 2002. Here is an in-depth look at some of the methodology used by the team over the years for identifying up-and-coming talent.

Next is one of the most iconic winter sports, skiing. There are many use cases in this sport. We have a former US Olympian Bode Miller starting a performance analytics platform for skiers (and not just competitive skiers), there is a cloud-based video storage platform that has released AI video analysis capabilities to deliver feedback on athlete movements, and there is the use of GPS to track cross-country skiing techniques

If you haven't heard, Jamaica has a bobsled team this year! However, we anticipate that they might have a tough time beating the US team considering the US pilot is a real-life data scientist and has used his job to help improve his team’s performance.

In figure skating, along with many other sports, athlete tracking is used to assist in monitoring how the body is expected to hold up during all the intense training, which is giving way to improved training sessions and injury prevention for athletes.  

We are sure that there are many other Winter Olympic sports that use analytics but we just wanted to give you a taste of some examples to keep in mind as you watch the nightly highlights from Beijing 2022!