The master of Swiss timekeeping technology. Interview with timekeeping legend Peter Hürzeler. Timekeeping at the 75th Hahnenkamm Races.

Longines is the official timekeeper of the FIS (the International Ski Federation)

I spent the weekend with Longines in Kitzbühel to attend the 75th Hahnenkamm Races. Longines is the official timekeeper of the FIS (the International Ski Federation). Discover what it needs to do the timekeeping of a ski race by clicking on “read more”…

 

Longines` long association with competitive skiing started in Chamonix in 1933. The winter contracts for timing international skiing events that followed gave Longines the opportunity to introduce many technological innovations, since each era has presented its own specific demands. Over time, the technical requirements in timekeeping have become much more stringent. For the men’s downhill, for example, the FIS now requires five intermediate times and two speed measurements as well as the final time. In addition, all measurements must be to one hundredth of a second.

The Swiss watchmaker began timing the Hahnenkamm Races in Kitzbühel in 1948 and has carried out this task more than 50 times since then. In 2013 Longines, which is the official timekeeper for the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Alpine Ski World Cup and World Championship races, came back in the popular Tyrolean resort. We all know that Kitzbühel is well known for its demanding Streif piste – renowned as the most difficult and fastest on the circuit.

Many great champion skiers have tackled this legendary Streif piste where Longines has helped to develop the technical side of the competition for several decades, introducing a number of innovative ideas to improve the timing and the public’s enjoyment of the race. In 1993, for example, Longines introduced a new technology whereby the racers’ intermediate times could be shown on television alongside the time of the fastest competitor for comparison.

Get some real insights by listening to my conversation with Peter Hürzeler (75), who started his career in 1969 as a micro engineer first with Omega. Later he was the CEO of Swiss Timing (click HERE to get to the company´s website), a Swatch Group company. Swiss Timing today provides its knowhow to all Swatch Group brands. Swiss Timing reunites all the timekeeping expertise of Longines and Omega. Both companies were and are very strong involved when it came and comes to develop new timekeeping technologies.

Peter Hürzeler himself did invent and improve more than a dozen of different timekeeping devices. He had always one thing in mind: Athletes should never worry about timekeeping.

 

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Timekeeping legend Peter Hürzeler
Timekeeping legend Peter Hürzeler

 

 

Here are some pictures showing you Longines timekeeping the legendary Kitzbühel Hahnenkamm Races in the past…

Longines timekeeping in Kitzbühel, Austria, 1960.
Longines timekeeping in Kitzbühel, Austria, 1960.
The American Linda Meyers (on the right), winner of the slalom in Kitzbühel where Longines was in charge of the timekeeping, 1960.
The American Linda Meyers (on the right), winner of the slalom in Kitzbühel where Longines was in charge of the timekeeping, 1960.
The Longines team tests the timekeeping equipment in Kitzbühel, 1964.
The Longines team tests the timekeeping equipment in Kitzbühel, 1964.
A Longines timekeeper gets the equipment at the starting gate ready during the Hahnenkamm races in 1966.
A Longines timekeeper gets the equipment at the starting gate ready during the Hahnenkamm races in 1966.
The finish line of the Hahnenkamm race in 1969, where Longines was in charge of the timekeeping.
The finish line of the Hahnenkamm race in 1969, where Longines was in charge of the timekeeping.
Longines timekeeping in Kitzbühel, Austria, 1985.
Longines timekeeping in Kitzbühel, Austria, 1985.

 

 

 

Let me show you on page 2 a presentation Peter Hürzeler gave me. It describes in brief Longines` history being in charge of timekeeping ski races and it explains how the job is done today …

 

 

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1 Comment

  • I was an amateur adult ski racer skiing modified GS not too difficult and not particularly fast. For some of us an alarm clock would have provided adequate accuracy. But the Streif is a different deal for World Cup. I believe a hundredth of a second is the correct measurement. The racers know to flip their poles forward to trip early. Thousandths of a second is not in the realm of natural human reaction.
    As an aside even on this long course it only takes about ,7 microsec for the signals to get down the hill in the cable.
    My wife’s nephew used to pre-run the downhill course at Aspen for WC when he was a kid. He loved it. How fast did you go Jason? “They got me 70 mph in the steeps.”

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