Olympic Hopefuls On Social Media, The Quantified Self, And Rule 40


The Winter Olympics are exactly one year away, which is why a team of Winter Olympians (past, present, and future) gathered together in NYC yesterday to ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq.

We jumped at the opportunity to speak with a few of them about how technology merges with the athletic realm, specifically the Olympic Games. Keri Herman, a four-time Winter X Games medalist, and Tom Wallisch, gold medalist at the Winter X Games, are both hopeful free skiers looking to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

But what technology will they use when they get there?

I asked both whether they were familiar with the term “quantified self,” only to get confused faces staring back at me. While neither of them are all that excited about souped-up pedometers like the FitBit, FuelBand, and Jawbone Up, they are both interested in a wearable device that measures speed.

“That would be huge on the mountain,” Herman said.

I thought perhaps that they would be more interested in Oakley’s new Airwave Smart Goggles, used by skiers to tell where they are on the mountain, altitude, etc. However, Herman and Wallisch said that this type of technology, while cool, could only serve as a distraction for them while competing in their events.

While consumer electronics don’t seem to have much of an influence on the skiers, the internet certainly does. Both of them plan on Instagramming and tweeting throughout the games, though they were bummed to learn of Rule 40. The International Olympic Committee forbids any mention of non-partner sponsors on any of the athlete’s social channels.

Since endorsements are integral to athlete’s livelihoods, this is an issue that leaves many of the Olympians rather frustrated.