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While watching the Ladies' Olympic Snowboarding Halfpipe in Pyeongchang, I noticed what appeared to be straps around the lower leg of each competitor. For example, here's a couple pictures of American champion Chloe Kim with said straps indicated:

ChloeKim

ChloeKim2

And Chinese Silver Medalist Liu Jiayu:

Liu Jiayu

And France's Mirabelle Thovex:

Mirabelle Thovex

All images from screencaps of the NBC Olympics stream, available at http://stream.nbcolympics.com/snowboarding-womens-halfpipe-final

I am having trouble determining what exactly these are. My thoughts are:

  • Doesn't seem to be part of the team uniform, as I noticed these "straps" around the leg of athletes from several different countries (perhaps even all?).
  • With there being a strap around each leg, it wouldn't seem to be a snowboard leash (from the video, I didn't see any competitors remove a leash when taking off their board).
  • My best guess is some sort of electronic transmitters. If so, to what end? Providing analytics to broadcasters for the "Maximum / Average Amplitude" graphics? Data for judges to confirm number of rotations? Data for the athletes/coaches to analyze later?

While currently watching the Men's Halfpipe Final, these straps can also be spotted on several competitors (but, perhaps notably, not America's Shaun White). As not every competitor seems to be wearing these, it wouldn't seem to be something mandated by the IOC and thus presumably useful to the snowboarding world in general. Of course, it could be that other competitors are wearing them under their snowboarding pants?

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    @CharlieBrumbaugh Perhaps...I was having a hard time deciding whether this is fundamentally a snowboarding question or an Olympics/Competition question. Hard to determine a priori without knowing what this thing is – erfink Feb 14 '18 at 2:18
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    Whatever Chloe Kim does, copy. I'm attaching straps to my board as we speak...what do they do, I have no idea. – user2766 Feb 14 '18 at 9:53
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    On a serious note, are they just to stop the (very) baggy trousers from riding up when inverted? Nobody likes snow in their boots! – user2766 Feb 14 '18 at 9:54
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    The TV commentators tell us that these are altitude sensors, so that the judges have an objective measure of how high the snowboarder gets on each move. Sorry, no link, so not an answer. – Pete Becker Feb 14 '18 at 14:08
  • @PeteBecker So presumably all of the competitors are in fact wearing them? And some have elected to wear them under their snowboard pants? – erfink Feb 14 '18 at 19:25
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These are transponders that the riders wear. They provide data to the judges, most notably amplitude or height achieved out of the halfpipe.

In effect, each athlete now controls his or her own clock, determining when it stops and starts and, increasingly, carrying it along the way. Speed skaters wear transponders on their ankles that mark their location, speed, and running time at every moment along their path; alpine skiers have them on their boots. Many of the temporal innovations this year have less to do with timing, per se, than with its permutations: the real-time acceleration rate and brake speed of speed skaters and alpine skiers; the takeoff and landing speeds of snowboarders; g-forces in the bobsleigh. It’s a continuous stream of entertaining data, but it can also be fed back into the training process, helping athletes to understand where they gained or lost time.

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-olympics-never-ending-struggle-to-keep-track-of-time/amp

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  • So presumably all of the athletes are in fact wearing them? And it's the riders choice whether they are over/under their pants? – erfink Feb 15 '18 at 18:57

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