Everybody’s favorite ski babe, Lindsey Vonn, is back! I read in today’s Washington Post that she won a Super-G race in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, thereby setting a new record for career World Cup wins at 63, breaking a 35-year mark held by Annemarie Moser-Proell. If that knee she shattered last year holds up, there’s a lot more victories on the way for her, one suspects. This is especially true since she wins races by “massive” margins, like the one yesterday in which she was “a huge 0.85 ahead” of her nearest rival. That’s not hours; that’s not minutes; that’s eighty-five one-hundredths of a single second. Thank goodness it wasn’t even close.
Ms. Vonn’s massive margins spotlight the importance of electronic metrics to modern sports. If it were not for radar guns how could we be sure the fastball hurled plateward by Stephen Strasburg was traveling 98 miles an hour rather than a measly 94? if it were not for high-speed electronic shutters how could we be sure that Marcel Kittel’s bike crossed the finish line just a rim’s width ahead of Mark Cavendish’s? If it were not for electronic stopwatches how could we know how huge Vonn’s time gaps are?
To us amateurs eyeballing them from the bottom of the run, the Super-G contestants would surely seem to be a couple dozen fit, strong, skilled woman skiers who got to the bottom of the hill in just about exactly the same time. We wouldn’t know by what astonishing and humiliating margins they trailed the victorious Lindsey.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2015