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World Cup XC Skiing Race Videos
By:  Craig Storey   (2003/01/01)

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Update: Feb. 2006 - Look for Bittorrents of the latest World Cup races. Files download in hours and can be burned to play in your DVD players! Excellent resource for coacheces and athletes.

Update: As of July 2005, these videos are no longer available. Unfortunately the university didn't like the bandwidth burden! Thanks to "Janne" for his many years of devotion.

Every week on TSN you can watch countless big league pro sports games. Channel surf over to OLN and you can learn all the right bait needed to catch every species of fish on the planet. Nowhere will you find a ski race!

Now CBC has improved it's amateur sports coverage this year. They will air the Eastern Canadian Ski Championships live from 2-4PM Saturday and Sunda January 17th and 18th. But it's rare that they pick up more than a single cross country ski race a season. Maybe if Beckie and Sara get on the podium a few times this season we'll get to see a few races!

CBC just televised it's quota of skiing fot the year, 5 two minute segments with mostly a talking head and little skiing action. This is great for potentially attracting parents to put their kids in skiing programs, but not what the developping racer needs to see to improve. You need to see the sport, not hear about it.

Wouldn't it be nice to watch all the World Cup races, not just read the results on some website?

By now you've probably guessed that I am going to tell you how this is possible. There maybe copyright violations to doing this, you'll have to weight the morality and legality of this for yourself. Your not stealing satelite signals and you don't need a dish, a digital cable subscription or even one of those illegal black boxes. You aren't depriving pro athletes, sports teams, managers or leagues of revenue since you can't get access to these films any other way. In the end you maybe helping to push North American stations to pick up Eurosports ski feeds! Highly unlikely, but a nice dream. Imagine coming home on a Saturday afternoon after training just in time to catch the complete World Championships realy?

Anyway here's why it's possible to get the videos on your PC. Someplace in the Scandinavia there's a guy named Jan or Janne. For the benefit of sports science research and education he records ski races on Eurosport and other European TV stations, converts them to digital format and post them on his website for anyone to doanload and watch. Just take a look at link removed. Before you get too excited you need to learn a few things in order to watch these movies...it's not as easy as channel surfing, but any 10 year old kid can configure your computer in order to watch these. (10 year old kid not included!)

Guide to Getting and Watching XC Skiing Videos on your PC

  1. Install the FREE Xvid codec that Janne uses to compress his videos or buy the DivX codec. I won't bore you with the technical details about codecs, Xvid or DivX. But you should know that the Xvid codec is a FREE ISO MPEG-4 compliant video codec. It's no product, it's an open source project which is developed and maintained by lots of people from all over the world. It's a video compression technology that can shrink digital video to sizes small enough to be transported over the Internet, while maintaining high visual quality. So the videos you get are far smaller than MPGs for similar quality. To learn more about codecs and Xvid have a look at their website - www.xvid.org.

  2. Once you've installed DivX, you are ready to watch vidoes, either in the newly installed DivX player or in Windows Media Player. Now what you need are the videos! To get them direct your browser to:
    link removed

    Janne breaks each race video into chunks usually <100MB in size. The files are not small, but on a typical Sympatico or Cable account you have bandwidth for a full month of World Cup races and all the web surfing you want too. Download all the chunks of the race or just the first one to see if you are interested.

  3. So what if they aren't downloading fast enough for you?? (They are usually really fast!) Here again technology comes to the rescue. While downloading files in your browser can be sometimes be slow Janne provides FTP as well as the usual HTTP access to his files which really speeds up downloads. Not sure what FTP is? It's another file transfer protocol, or a way of transmitting info from one computer to another. How do you do FTP instead of HTTP? Most newer browsers support doing FTP as well as HTTP, so you you can just go to:
    link removed
    You can use dedicated FTP clients like WS_FTP_LE, but if you are just hearing about FTP for the first time, stick to what you know and use your web browser.
  4. Make pop corn, sit back and enjoy the show! World Cup skiing, with multi-lingual commentary and great action. What could be better? (Maybe a bigger monitor!!)
 
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