2022 Excellence in Immersive and Emerging Technology Storytelling finalist

Winter Olympics – Athletes to Watch

About the Project

What distinguishes excellence in Olympic athleticism? On the eve of the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, a team of visual journalists published a series of multimedia profiles detailing the Olympic routines of some of the Games’ biggest athletes.

These three pieces used a combination of Markerless Motion Capture technology and visual referencing that allowed us to record the athletes’ precise movements in 3-D without having to place any sort of motion capture targets on them. In combination with video, interviews and visual design elements, this MoCap data was re-assembled in a scrolling interactive, giving readers a detailed understanding of the Olympians’ physical experience and expertise.

We followed Adam Ondra, the Czech climber. Ondra has completed more of the hardest outdoor routes than anyone else, and he is the reigning world champion in competitive lead climbing. But this was the first year that climbing was featured at the Olympics, and it presented a challenge to Ondra: the inclusion of speed climbing in scoring. In our profile on Ondra, we break down what makes him such a skilled climber and why that skill doesn’t necessarily translate to a speed wall.

Sunisa Lee was always expected to outshine the competition on uneven bars. Her routine was one of the most daring in the event, comprising a series of extremely difficult skills woven together without breaks. In addition to her uneven bar routine, we captured Lee’s beam and floor performances — giving a fuller picture of the American gymnast who would end up winning Gold in the Women’s Individual All Around event.

We captured Dalilah Muhammad as she practiced for one of the most grueling track events: the 400 meter hurdles. The American hurdler maintains her speed by keeping her body movements consistent between sprinting and hurdling. Over the hurdle, Muhammad kept her right leg slightly bent as her left leg cycled through in a sprinting motion.