Can we please do something about the goddamned moguls competition?

Okay, help me out here.

Last night I was watching the Men’s Moguls competition from Vancouver. Absolutely fantastic fun, lots of drama, the thrill of victory, apeshit Canadians, etc. But this particular event, probably moreso than anything this side of parkour, drives me bonkers. (No, figure skating and synchronized swimming aren’t sports. Anytime you can trigger controversy because your tutu is trimmed in fur, whatever you’re doing isn’t a sport. Period. Let’s move along.)

Here’s the problem.

What part of hurtling a zillion miles an hour down a double-black mogul field isn’t good enough for you? I mean, powder, skis, a steep mountain and a stopwatch – that sounds like a pretty good sport to me. In fact, it sounds like some other time-tested sports, plus the complication of all those cruciate-buckling bumps. Pass me a beer and turn up the volume, eh?

So why do they have to add the gratuitous element of judging? Seriously. Why, at various intervals, is it necessary to insert jumps – which are to skiing moguls as beat poetry is to yak-dressing – unnecessarily complicating the affair with style points?!

Imagine if the same pot-addled hippie slackers had invented track and field. You’d have an event where you sprint 30 meters, then do a ten-yard tumbling run. 30 more meters, then you do a couple backflips off a minitramp. Then you sprint the rest of the way. Six judges (at least one of which hails from a nation you’re at war with) score your tumbling from zero to six points each (factoring in degree of difficulty and artistic impression – so fur is a plus here), and that number is combined with your time to the finish line to yield your final score.

We call it the “100-meter dash.” And you don’t even want to think about what these people would do to the 5,000-meter steeplechase (but it involves a stop at Starbuck’s).

Look, bitches. We let all your wack-ass skate-punk X Games derivations into the real Olympics (granted, this was mainly because the TV folks desperately needed something that Americans could win at), baggy pants, bad posture and all. And admittedly, the results haven’t been all bad. Hell, we freakin’ love snowboard-cross, and it’s hard not to jam on a guy whose nickname is “The Flying Tomato.”

But can we please leave well enough alone? I get that some sports require judges (half-pipe, freestyle, etc.), but when you have an event that works just fine as a real hell-for-leather race, can we just, you know, race?

Next time around, I want the moguls to involve young people with no instinct for self-preservation whatsoever jumping off the side of a mountain, and the first one to the bottom who doesn’t explode one or more knees wins. Period.

Thank you. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

21 replies »

  1. Oh no, not THAT again. Bitch, please. When you can put on tights and a spangled leotard and do this:

    you can tell me that figure skating isn’t a sport.

  2. I think it has to do with the culture around bump skiing. The issue with bump skiing has been (for as long as I’ve been skiing) FLASH. It’s about exuberance. There are a lot of people who can ski bumps, but only a few who can launch themselves into the air, do a 360 helicopter, and LAND in those same bumps without missing a beat. I’ve seen that on real slopes when it wasn’t a competition, and it’s simply a jaw dropping move. Olympic bump skiing grew out of that freestyle culture, and that’s probably why it’s incorporated in the competition. I admit that it seems silly, now that you point it out. But I do think it’s in keeping with the origins of the sport.

  3. I put a lot of ski events, figure skating, dog shows and synchronized swimming in the category of non-sports. They may require tremendous physical abilities, but if a judge needs to tell you who is winning, it’s not a sport.

    In basketball, football, track and field and all races, the officials are there just to enforce the rules. While their decisions may ultimately impact the outcome, it’s the competitors’ actions that determine who gets carried off in victory at the end.

    If some guy sitting at table has to tell me which ribbon twirler is better, it ain’t a sport.

  4. What about fencing, Tom? There are right-of-way rules in foil and saber that are judgment calls, even though actual touches are scored electronically. It’s not exactly enforcement of rules, or at least not only that. There’s a lot of finesse involved. Would that make fencing not a sport?

    • Stuart makes a good point. Swordfighting used to be a perfectly good sport until they pussied it up with referees and masks. I say simplify – two men enter, one man leaves. With the gold medal.

  5. This is why I can’t watch team sports; I start thinking,”Hey, why don’t they break that guy’s leg?” or “What do you mean you can’t tag someone out in baseball?”

    • Ummm, you can tag someone out in baseball. Happens several times a game.

      Maybe you can’t watch team sports because the rules are too complicated for your pretty little head?

  6. No, dingdong. I mean the pitcher can’t tag someone out from the mound by hitting them with the ball. I always thought that was okay. Stupid rules.

  7. I think that happened in the early 80s, Sam. A broken blade was rammed through a mask, through the eye, and into the brain. And, yes, I think the survivor was declared the winner.

  8. Ann: I think you’re confusing baseball with Calvinball.

    Stuart: Fencing should be more like Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, I wouldn’t even care if the athletes dressed like figure skaters.

    Granted, I’m not sure my version of the sport would draw many coveted female viewers. They tend to be squeamish about things like swords through the brain. Probably draw like crazy among 18-21 males, though….

  9. I was always under the impression that sport evolved from the same behavior that causes kits and pup siblings to spar with one another: stylized, simulated combat as a means of testing and improving one’s skills. Your version of fencing sounds a little too much like regular combat.

  10. I think outdoor synchronized swimming should be a winter Olympic sport.

    Even better, the Top Gear guys had a race between a real speed skater and Jeremy Clarkson driving a Jaguar. Man versus metal, on a large track plowed on the top of a frozen lake in Norway, three times around. Man won, machine lost, but that’s because the machine was polite (if not actually immobilized). A more aggressive machine mght have won. I see endless possibilities here.

  11. It just occurred to me that no martial art that I can think of would be a sport, since they’re all judged on points of some sort. Well, maybe epee. Yeah. Epee would qualify. But boxing and karate would go.

    • Under my philosophy, all martial arts would become real sports. When you rip a guy’s arm off and beat him to death with it, you win.

      Okay, maybe that’s a little tough. How about this. The thing some of us are uneasy about is the subjectivity. Some judging is about did he or did he not make contact? – think boxing here. Other judging is about “artistic impression.” Now, I love artistic impression. Hell, I’m a poet. But poetry ain’t a sport.

      Does that distinction help the conversation along?

  12. I’ve never thought of the Olympics as sports per se, but rather as competition. And i’m not sure we should overlay American sport culture on the Olympics. Lot’s of countries participating that don’t follow our ideas about sports. Take most continental sports sections in newspapers: you’ve got football (the real thing), tennis and autoracing. In the north and east of Europe you can add hockey. The UK (and the commonwealth minus Canada) is different from everyone with the addition of cricket and rugby.

    So most of the sports that the rest of the world cars about aren’t really played in the US (or at least not noticed). And no, NASCAR doesn’t count as autoracing. Rednecks making themselves dizzy at 200 mph in a spec series ain’t “racin”…wake me up when someone turns right.

    Maybe it’s us that has the strange view of what comprises sport. It’s certainly us that puts an outsized emphasis on its importance and sets our calendar by which sport we’re following at the moment.