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Albertville 1992

1992 was the last year in which the Olympic Winter Games were held in the same year as the Summer Games. It was also the first time the OMEGA Scan-O-Vision system (pictured right) was used. Now the public could watch the finish live via a video system on giant screens erected at nine competition venues.

ANECDOTE

Lebanese confused giant slalom timekeepers

With 131 participants, the men’s giant slalom in Val d’Isère was the largest event of the Games, which is why the weaker competitors started the 1,135 m course at 40-second intervals. These short gaps resulted in disaster. The skier wearing number 129, El Hassan Matha (MAR), fell during his descent, lost a ski and clipped it back on. As he continued down the course, the next skier, Raymond Keyrouz (LIB) overtook him through the final gates. Spurred on by his sense of achievement, Keyrouz accelerated even more and promptly missed a gate, meaning that his great joy at the finish was unfounded: he was disqualified. The whole situation was also very challenging for the timekeepers, for as Keyrouz (130) crossed the line, the number 131, worn by Martin Charnacov Selvin (CRC), appeared on the television screen, even though Selvin never completed his first run.

The giant slalom was won, incidentally, by Alberto Tomba (ITA) with an overall time of 2:06.98. Alejandro Preinfalk Lavagni (CRC) finished 91st and last with a time of 4:49.06. Matha and Keyrouz, numbers 129 and 130, appear on the results list as having been disqualified in the first run. The FIS had introduced entry restrictions for all disciplines, with Alpine skiers required to be ranked in the FIS top 500. However, in order to give smaller nations a chance to take part, every country has been allowed to enter one male and one female in the Olympic Games since 1984, regardless of the qualification criteria. The IOC covers the costs of both these athletes.

TECHNOLOGY

Scan-o-vision, the digital photofinish camera

At the Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, the OMEGA Scan-O-Vision system was used for the first time in the four short track speed skating competitions, which were also making their Olympic debut.

The new system digitally measured times to the nearest 1/1000th of a second. Scan-O-Vision is the popular version of the Photofinish camera. Time is photographed using linear vertical recording technology and an integrated switching circuit (CCD). Or in other words, the time and shutter speed run independently of each other in a traditional film camera, while these two functions are combined in a CCD camera. The public could watch the finishes live on the electronic scoreboards.

For OMEGA, 1992 marked the start of another adventure: timekeeping at the Paralympics, the Winter and Summer Games for disabled athletes. These take place two weeks after the end of each Olympic Games at the same venues and are just as fiercely contested.


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