They should start calling them the GoPro Olympics.
The little camera-that-can is changing sport; raising the bar, levelling the field and opening the top position on the podium to a whole new team of players.
Better training, bigger budgets and more advanced technologies are playing their part as well, but Nick Woodman’s ultimate selfie shooter is having a huge influence on changing and advancing the sports we know. While at the same time inspiring new ones.
For as little as $200, the aspiring athlete can document and study his or her moves in the moment to speed progress in the relentless pursuit of perfection. Videos posted by pros fuelled by Red Bull and wearing their own GoPros reveal the secrets that just a few years ago were locked in the minds of an elite few and played out on private half-pipes. Now anyone with a surfboard or a passion for wingsuit-flying can analyse not only their own moves, but those posted by the guys they want to emulate and beat.
Kids at the local skate park are shooting HD 3D, with stacked GoPros mounted on helmets and then getting overhead shots from quadcopters that anyone with a paper route can afford.
Figure less than $1,000 for the chopper and a GoPro Silver with a boxful of mounts, WiFi and the works. Cheap shots, indeed.
The impact of the GoPro and a growing group of mini-camera competitors is measured by the increasingly frequent appearance of unfamiliar names on the leaderboard. Lesser mortals now get to see how it’s done from the inside out and become inspired to do better.
There’s a downside to this ultimate visual coach.
As an article in Outside magazine recently reported, the GoPro phenomenon is driving athletes ever-closer to the edge in the quest for more dramatic footage. Many are taking their final shot at glory at the foot of a cliff or upside down over a double jump. The captured first-person-video feats that leave us breathless are having the same effect on the crazies who wear the cameras. In the quest for more awesome footage, boarders, bikers and base jumpers alike are riding a ‘that’s nothing, watch this’ attitude into eternity.
Increasingly, the real trick is to make sure that your best shot isn’t your last.