Moguls and Ski Jumping: how to fix the two worst sports in the Olympic Winter Games

It’s one thing to have “sports” with subjective judging when there’s no choice. But it’s unforgivable to introduce “artistic impression” and “style points” into sports that don’t need it.

Imagine a world where the folks that brought you the Olympic Winter Games also created the Summer Games competitions.

Brent Musberger: And there’s the gun! Usain Bolt is out of the blocks like a shot. He’s looking strong at the 30-meter mark. And here it comes – oh no! – he got a little loose with his elbow on the cartwheel, although he recovered nicely and stuck the landing on the backflip. That’s going to be a two-tenths deduction on the judges’ scorecard. And here he comes – that’s a new world record time, folks! Let’s wait and see if it’s enough to get him the gold. Here come the marks. 9.2, 9.1…

Ato Boldon: Oh, no – the Iranian judge gives him an 8.6! That’s going to hand the gold medal to American Tyson Gay!

Ummm. What?

Brent Musberger: Here comes Frenchman Teddy Tamgho down the runway for his final attempt in the Triple Jump. Nice take-off, great extension – he’s done it! He’s done it! 18.32 meters! That’s the longest jump in history! Surely this will be a gold medal! We’re waiting now for the judges’ scores.

Ato Boldon: Brent, I think he’s going to be disappointed with his marks for artistic impression. Teddy has always been a superb pure athlete, but he has been criticized for lacking fluidity and grace. He really let it all hang out on this jump, but as you can see on the replay here his right leg flies out just a tad before the landing. That’s going to cost him.

Okay, that’s just stupid.

Brent Musberger: Chris Paul with the crossover, into the lane – he kicks to a wide open Kevin Durant for three – good! Now let’s see the marks. Hunh. Durant wasn’t perfectly vertical as he released the ball, Chuck. You can see on replay he’s falling just a little to the left. Yep – three-tenths deduction. So a 2.7-pointer, and that pushes the USA lead over the Brazilians to 4.6 points with a minute left in the half.

Charles Barkley: Turrible. That’s just turrible.

Listen, I get that not all competitions are amenable to purely objective scoring. There’s no way to evaluate Synchronized Swimming Figure Skating without resort to subjective judging. Same for Rhythmic Gymnastics and Ballroom Dancing Slopestyle and Half-Pipe. These “sports” aren’t about speed or distance, so we use judges and try and make the process as credible as we can.

I hate to be too much of a purist, but I sort of am. I used to say that if it didn’t have a ball it wasn’t a sport. Which is ridiculous – Track is sure as hell a sport, and Bowling has a ball.

And the gods help me, I do like watching some of these newfangled snowpunk made-up X-games. Slopestyle is all kinds of fun, and it’s impossible not to ooh and aah at a fakey 1034 reverse trucker with a crotch grab – seriously, this is how the play by play sounds to me – and if you don’t enjoy Shaun White ignoring the laws of gravity then you just hate freedom.

So we make allowances where we have to.

But in the Winter Olympics, it’s not enough to resort to subjective judging when there’s no alternative. No, these rhinestone spangled wankers have to insert judging into competitions where it simply isn’t needed.

For instance, check out Moguls. You have this impossibly bumpy hill (I’ve had surgery on both knees and it hurts me to look at the Olympic course), and the objective is to get to the bottom fast. Except there are two little jumps where you have to do the X-version of a cartwheel. And if you fuck it up, you lose.


Then there’s one of the most awesome sports known to humanity – Ski Jumping. Holy crap, these people were extreme decades before the term had anything to do with nacho-flavored chips. Again, it’s a perfect situation for pure, objective scoring. But no, we have to have judges awarding style points. You can jump the farthest and not even medal, in theory.

I have an idea: stop fucking around you poncey fucking wankers.

Put me in charge and we’re going to make some simple changes. The new and improved moguls will have this big, nasty-ass hill and the faster skier to the bottom wins. If you’re married to the jumps, fine, leave them there. Let the skiers figure out how to use them to maximize their speed. This will make for a far more satisfying sporting experience and it will free up some time for the judges to go shop for new tramp-stamps.

How would I fix Ski Jumping? Easy. Shoot the judges. It’s like Long Jumping in Track & Field, only with a hill and snow and skis. Whoever jumps the farthest wins. Period.

This ain’t hard, people. And I’m sure if we get together and pool our money we can round up enough cash to bribe the IOC. Let’s make this happen!

Categories: Sports

10 replies »

  1. I agree. Style points are stupid. Especially on something like skiing. On the other hand, I can see some of the justification for wanting to jazz things up a bit. Even fanatics get a bit bored by the time the 40th skater comes around.

    Actually, I was looking at that snowboard course on day one for whatever event that was, and I was thinking that it looked like a miniature golf course writ large–like, really, really large. And then I started thinking that to add a little pizazz to some of the other sports, that miniature golf idea isn’t bad. Think what we could do with that windmill that you have to shoot the ball through while it’s turning. That would have been GREAT in that snowboard thing–after all that other stuff, you’d have to time it so that you whizzed through the hole and not get slammed by the turning arms. And if you got whacked, well, that’s part of the deal. It lends itself to speed skiing and cross country skiing too, you have to admit.

    Then there’s the water hazard. The biathlon would be a lot more interesting with a water hazard, I bet. You’d have a little incline so you could leap it if you timed it right–you don’t want to turn this into steeplechase, that would be a bit too much. Of course, if you didn’t quite make it, it would be pretty cold, and you’d probably get the rifle wet as well. Bummer. Still, I can just hear Brent’s commentary, although I won’t try to imitate it.

    And that shooting thing from the biathlon. That’s not a bad idea either. You don’t need style points in speed skating. But how much cooler would it be if you had to take a slap shot each time you went around, and you were penalized for the misses. Awesome!

    See? It’s easy to get rid of all this style stuff, and still make the games a whole lot more interesting than some may think they are now. I mean, who wants to just watch someone ski, especially really, really fast, when you can watch them have to do something hard at the same time? I’m thinking juggling here.

    • Biathlon would be better if, instead of shooting targets, they were allowed to shoot at each other. That would make for a FAR more compelling viewer experience.

  2. here, here sam. you’re absoltuelyright. i’ve marveled at the same thing. why in the hell insert nonsense like this where it’s not needed?

    style ruins athleticsim. if i;m not mistaken, the last woman to attempt a quad in competition was tonya harding, because now “artists” dominate figure skating and push athletes out. i got no problem with dance contests, but why mix the two together?

  3. Put me down for $6 in the bribe pot.

    Do judges get paid or some kind or perks? Are they adding judges so the $$$ get spread around more? Or more of their friends can go on vacation too?

  4. I completely agree about ski jumping, and I would eliminate those ski tracks they go on before they jump! How difficult is it to not go sideways and fall off the hill? The only one I know of is the old “agony of defeat” guy from Wide World of Sports opening.
    Just as I was typing the announcer was complaining that one ski jumpers “crotch seemed pretty low” on the ski suit and that he might get an advantage from that!

  5. Although I agree in many way with your overall sentiment here, you are flat out wrong in your view of what mogul competitions could entail, and that judging them is stupid. It takes nothing more than balance and balls to haul ass down a bumpy slope. But to do so while staying vertical with your knees together and shoulders perpendicular with the hill takes world class(Olympian) skill. Not to mention 1 flip is easier than two, hence the judging jumps.

    This leads me to a point that leans more towards agreeing with you.(which I do for the most part) In contests like “Big Air” “Half pipe” and anything with the word “freestyle” in the title, the judges need to ease way up on making “cleanliness” such a disproportionately large factor in the final score. Ex. Dude A does 4 spins, 3flips, and calls his mom mid flight, but is leaning slightly forward and off off kilter upon landing but has no issue in regaining control within a few feet. Dude B 2 flips, 2 spins, and breaks up with his girlfriend via text in mid air, and lands cleanly. So this is where the “Big” in the title gets replaced with pretty. Yes, Dude A should have a slight deduction figuring for the fact that Dude Q473-1 might do the same thing flawlessly, but the way it would, and does everyday, play out is Dude B’s score would be close to 20/100 points higher than Dude A, 25-30 without the text!

    Fans want to see remarkable feats of athleticism coupled with unbelievable, gravity defying displays of a complete disrespect for ones safety. Am I wrong?