A sports science investigation that reveals who comes out on top when today’s top winter athletes compete in vintage gear against legends of the past.
Champions vs. Legends premieres on CBC’s The Nature of Things on Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 8 PM and is available anytime on cbc.ca/natureofthings.
The film is an international Canada-Germany-Austria co-production by Kensington Communications, Berlin Producers, and PreTV for CBC, RDI (French Canada), Ici Explora (French Canada), ARTE (France and Germany), ARD (Germany) and ORF Austria.
Champions vs. Legends is a companion to our 2016 film on summer sports events: The Equalizer.
Every year, winter athletes set new world records. But are today’s champions really superior to legends of the past? Or are they only faster because their equipment is more high-tech?
To find out, renowned sports scientist Steve Haake meets five top winter athletes, and challenges them to beat the world records of athletic legends while using old-school gear.
At Vancouver’s Olympic Oval, champion speed skater Christine Nesbitt wears replicas of 1960s speed skates as she attempts to beat the time of 1960s Russian legend Inga Artamonova. In St. Moritz, German bobsled champs Max Arndt and Alex Rodiger ride a 1940s-era sled to compete against 1940s legends Felix Endrich and Fritz Waller. In the Austrian alps, up-and-coming skier Manuel Feller competes head-to-head with 1980s legend Marc Girardelli in heats designed to measure how the evolution of ski design impacts performance. On the same giant slalom course, German Paralympic sit-skier Anna Schaffelhuber rides the original sit-ski – built in 1982 – as she attempts to beat the speed of 1980s sit-skiers. At a rink in Kelowna B.C., NHL star Shea Weber tries to equal Bobby Hull’s slap shot speed while using a replica of Hull’s hockey stick.
In every event, the winner is impossible to predict. Taken together, the matchups reveal the effect of technological advances on performance, and something shared by athletes of every era: the innate human drive to win.