Mike Rowbottom ©ITG

Yes, yes, I know nothing in sport is as simple as it seems. But sometimes I wish that it was.

With the next Olympic Games on the horizon, Pyeongchang 2018, being of the Winter persuasion, let us pick an example from that genre - bobsleigh.

The sport of bobsleigh, I am reliably informed - no it was not my postman, although he does know a lot about a surprising number of things, it was www.olympic.org - began in the late 19th century when some innovative Swiss gentlemen attached two skeleton sleds together and added a steering mechanism to make a toboggan.

A chassis was added - "to give protection to wealthy tourists" - and the world's first bobsleigh club was founded in St Moritz in 1897.

Initially the skeleton sleds were made of wood. They were then replaced by steel sleds, which have now been replaced by sleds that combine steel and fiberglass.

To further my research I found an article on sciencedirect.com by Peter Dabnichki, on the topic of "Bobsleigh Performance Characteristics for Winning Design". The foreword of which emphasised that this was a sport highly dependent on technology in critical areas such as unsteady aerodynamics of the sled, ice friction and runner development (steel rather than human I guess), dynamic structural response and - our old friend - ergonomics (I am, therefore I am uncomfortable).

At this point, I confess, my concentration wavered. Maybe I'll go back to it.

Ski jumping. Over the years, a sport believed to have been jump-started by some daredevil loons in Norway in the late 18th century has become a hi-tech haven.

Improvements in skis, jumpsuits and slope construction have enabled jumpers to fly further - to the point where snow is actually a hindrance.

Poland's Kamil Stoch competes during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup flying hill individual men's competition in March this year at Planica. Snow? No. ©Getty Images
Poland's Kamil Stoch competes during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup flying hill individual men's competition in March this year at Planica. Snow? No. ©Getty Images

The in-runs, down which the jumpers travel before taking to the air, appear to be filled with snow. But they aren't. The hunched competitors travel smoothly along ceramic tracks filled with ice that is minutely managed via an automatic irrigation and cooling system.

As for the spaces either side of the tracks - they have no snow on them either, but are composed of synthetic grass painted white.

"It looks like snow and everyone's happy," Nickolay Petrov, site manager of the Sochi 2014 ski jump site told the New York Times. "Nobody knows it's not snow on TV."

And if it should - sorry to mention this - snow, what then? At Sochi 2014, that would prompt 20 operatives to get going with snowblowers in order to blast every last flake off the slopes. The last thing you want at a Winter Games ski jump is snow…

Thus it has been possible for a number of years to ski jump all year round, without giving snow even a second thought. For instance, at the hi-tech site in the French Alps resort of Courchevel.

Technology has also advanced - when does it do anything else - in terms of offering would-be ski jumpers the means of practising without actually getting onto a slope, synthetic or otherwise.

The memory lingers from Rio 2016 of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach donning goggles and launching himself down a ski slope as a small blizzard of snow blew through his hair.

The goggles were a virtual reality device, the ski slope was imaginary, the snow artificial - but it really was Bach crouching with his old fencer's instincts as he sampled the technological wizardry within the Pyeongchang 2018 House at Cobacabana beach.

Ah well, that's ski jumping for you. At least not all winter sports are so, how can I put it, cutting edge. Curling, for instance…

Yes, curling. Begun, I am reliably informed, in the early 16th century by Scottish farmers who used to throw stones across ice and frozen rivers during the winter months, and whose idea of refinement was to insert a bit of metal into the stone to make it easier to control.

Suddenly the screen goes fuzzy, the picture blurs, and we move forward 500 years…

I can say "I was there" when, at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Scotland's Rhona Martin sent down what has since come to be known as "the stone of destiny" to secure the first British Olympic gold medal at a Winter Games for 18 years in the women's curling final.

And, unlike the same claim you may hear from time to time about the 1966 World Cup final, it is true.

Rhona Martin releases a stone en-route to gold during the Olympic curling final at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games ©Getty Images
Rhona Martin releases a stone en-route to gold during the Olympic curling final at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games ©Getty Images

Ahead of that gliding piece of granite - no fiberglass involved here - the two operative sweepers Fiona MacDonald and Janice Rankin, swept ahead of it, then stopped, gliding alongside, then swept like mad, swept as if they wanted to melt the ice away with their efforts - until the yellow-topped stone of Britain, in the last delivery of the final, displaced the red-topped stone of Switzerland in the centre of the house.

The fourth British team member, Debbie Knox, overseeing matters at that end, immediately joined her team-mates in a synchronised broom-brandishing display that was worth a separate medal in itself.

All through a British campaign which at one point appeared to have come to a premature end as they lost two consecutive matches in the round-robin stage - "we're gone," said Martin at that point, "we're dead" - the skip had prompted her be-broomed fellow curlers with advice that was fervent, finely-judged - but never in a million years technical.

There were two basic commands: "Hard! Hard! Yes! Yes!" and "Never! Never! Never!"

Martin's immediate assessment of her final delivery - albeit that she elaborated a bit a day later - was similarly visceral, as opposed to technical. "It was a routine draw," she said.

As the victory secured Martin's place in the centre of the households of Britain and beyond, the overwhelming feeling was of an extraordinary achievement by five - not to forget travelling reserve Margaret Morton - ordinary women.

Fuzzy screen, blurred picture, and we've stopped at August 23, 2017 - the day on which a long dreamed-of project became a reality and the National Curling  Academy was officially opened in Scotland's Stirling Sports Village, offering the possibility of all-year-round practice for elite and non-elite curlers alike.

Scotland’s Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell, rolls away the stone at the official opening of the hi-tech, cutting edge, state-of-the-art National Curling Academy ©Getty Images
Scotland’s Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell, rolls away the stone at the official opening of the hi-tech, cutting edge, state-of-the-art National Curling Academy ©Getty Images

After Scotland's Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell, had rolled away the stone which proclaimed the project was now fully operational, Mike Whittingham - formerly coach to Britain's 1996 Olympic 400 metres silver medallist and double European champion Roger Black and more recently performance director at the sportscotland Institute of Sport - said: "The technology in the National Curling Academy is cutting-edge and a welcome addition to our Olympic and Paralympic training programmes, and investment from our National Lottery stream and Stirling Council has made this happen."

As well as high-quality ice on four new sheets, apparently, the Academy will have real time video capture and displays comprising multiple camera viewing angles from September.

The report continued: "This will allow for video-based feedback across all four curling sheets.

"The impact of sweeping with smart-broom technology (WHAT?) continues to be monitored and real time feedback can be provided rink side, which includes measures such as forces applied to the broom, broom head amplitude, broom frequency and ice/stone impact.

"All of this data will be collected into a database which can be securely accessed both on site and remotely."

Eve Muirhead, Olympic bronze medallist for Britain at Sochi 2014 and the 2013 world champion, believes the new facility gives the British Curling programme a real edge over rival nations.

"I am really impressed with the new Academy, it has made our lives easier and I know it has made the coaches' lives easier as well," she said.

"Video will be available so that you can analyse your game right down to the tiniest margins - if anyone has a facility like that I don't know what makes it better and I can't see anyone beating this.

"It's fantastic turning up to training knowing that you have this facility on your doorstep and it has made a big difference to us already and I know it will right up to the Olympics and for the future of curling."

You can't really argue with any of that, can you? But if and when Muirhead slides another stone of destiny over the ice at Pyeongchang 2018, I am afraid it is not going to feel quite the same….

I fear the days of "Hard! Hard! Yes! Yes!" and "Never! Never! Never!" may have gone forever.