Visually impaired Canadian Paralympic skiing champion trains with new 360° video technology

Visually impaired Canadian Paralympic skiing champion  trains with new 360° video technology

Photo Caption Roger Witney

Para-Alpine athlete Mac Marcoux can see track clearly for the first time with help from Nikon cameras

Mississauga, ON – February 22, 2017 – Decorated Paralympic skier Mac Marcoux has a new tool in his training arsenal – a 360° camera that allows him to see the track clearly for the first time. 

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native Marcoux started skiing in 2001 at the age of four. In 2007, he lost most of his eyesight due to Stargardt disease, a form of juvenile macular degeneration. But that didn’t slow him down. He not only continued skiing, but began competing professionally in partnership with a sighted guide who alerts him to the terrain ahead. 

Now, at 19, Marcoux can accelerate up to 120 km/hr and has become one of the sport’s most decorated athletes, with three medals at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, including gold in giant slalom and bronze in the downhill and super G events. In January, he came first in downhill super G, slalom and giant slalom at the 2017 World Para-Alpine Skiing Championships. 

Last year, Marcoux tried on a VR headset on a lark and was astonished by the results. While he’s lost most of his sight, Marcoux can see objects in his peripheral vision and within a few inches of his eyes. Hold a book up to your face, and the peripheral vision that remains on either side of the book is what Marcoux sees every day. However, a VR headset display sits close enough to his eyes that he can see video playback from his training runs. With the use of immersive 360° video, he can see the track clearly. 

Alpine Canada, the national governing body for Alpine, Ski Cross and Para-Alpine ski racing, has partnered with Nikon Canada to equip Marcoux’s team with KeyMission 360 and KeyMission 170 cameras. The KeyMission 360 captures 360° video with two super wide-angle lenses. The two images are stitched together using software to create an immersive world in 4K resolution. This allows the Alpine Canada Alpin team to review Marcoux’s trial runs before he returns to the track to ski in competition. 

Until now, Marcoux has used the traditional visual aids allowed in professional Para-Alpine skiing for training purposes, such as guides, guide rails or beeping balls. The use of 360° video has been accepted as another legitimate tool in the sport, and has proven to have unexpected benefits for the whole team, including Marcoux’s sighted guide Jack Leitch.

“We are incredibly grateful to have Nikon Canada on board as our headgear sponsors this year,” said Marcoux. “Having state-of-the art technology available to us will be a game changer heading into the 2018 PyeongChang Games. The virtual reality equipment helps me to better prepare for downhill races by being able to see and visualize the course, giving me the confidence I need on race day."

ABOUT ALPINE CANADA

Alpine Canada is the national governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, world championship and World Cup medallists to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community.

ABOUT NIKON

Nikon, At the Heart of the Image™. Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enables users to tell their stories through amazing photos and videos. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, NIKKOR optics, Speedlights and system accessories; COOLPIX® compact digital cameras; 35mm film SLR cameras; Nikon software products and Nikon sports and recreational optics, as well as the Nikon 1 compact interchangeable lens camera system and the KeyMission line of action cameras. Nikon Corporation, the parent company of Nikon Inc., recently announced the production of 100 million NIKKOR lenses in 2016, creating a new milestone in Nikon’s heritage of superior optics. All Nikon Canada products are sold through a network of Authorized Nikon Canada Dealers. For more information on Nikon Canada and its products and services or to find an Authorized Nikon Canada Dealer, visit www.nikon.ca.

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For Nikon Canada
Steve Gold
StrategicAmpersand Inc.

(416) 961-5595
steve@stratamp.com 

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