February 19, 2006

"Every guy I work with is now shouting at me that Snowboard Cross is the best event of the entire Olympics."

Writes Kim Cosmopolitan after she opines, "Snowboard cross is a back yard dirtbike race on snow -- fun for the kiddies involved, but not so much deserving of medals and primetime television coverage."
Any Olympic event in which (1) the most relevant statistic is which lane the competitors are starting in (lots of commentary to the effect of "oooh, no wins for the black line tonight, it must be running slower than red or blue!"); (2) the most relevant strategic point is "he who gets the early lead wins because he's less likely to be squashed and nudged off the track by others behind him"; and (3) the sole means of overcoming the significance of (1) and (2) seems to be positioning oneself in the one spot on the track (amusingly, the one spot without direct camera coverage) from which one can try to launch a slingshotlike attack on the leader is just not worthy of being an Olympic event.
Ha, ha. I like watching the snowboard cross. It's entertaining! And what's with Kim vs. the men here? Why should women care more than men do about seriousness in sports?


Marghlar said...

I think the real tragedy is how toned-down it is. They won't even call it boardercross, which is what all the racers call it. It has to be "Snowboard Cross," all dainty-like. And they drastically reduced the number of boarders on the course, making it actually a lot less like a regular boardercross race, and more dignified and Olympic.

I think Kim is being silly here -- why should this be a problem, if we allow such ludicrous competitions as skeleton and curling to be Olympic sports? I guarantee you that boardercross has a much bigger following than either of those "sports."

tommy said...

It satisfies my primary rule of whether it's a sport or not. Do you need a judge to tell you who won?

As long as figure skating and gymnastics are allowed, there is no connection between being a sport and being allowed in the Olympics.

Wade_Garrett said...

I didn't know anything about Snowboard Cross before the Olympics, but I think its really cool. The competitors are great athletes, and it tests a lot of different skills. But mainly, I love what I call its "nonsense factor." The unpredictibility and randomness of the sport make it one of the most exciting in the Oympics, in my opinion.

Also, its broadcasters (all of the snowboard broadcasters, really) are refreshingly casual, likeable and funny, and they don't try to oversell their sport. It bothers me when the other commentators try to sell their winter sports to an American audience by calling short-track "NASCAR on ice" or the anchorman in a cross-country relay "the cleanup hitter." These sports are really cool, let them sell themselves!

PatCA said...

I think cross and snowboarding are the hits of the Olympics. The athletes appear to be actually amateur and having a blast!

Cross seems to be a cross between roller derby and snowboarding. Awright, dudes!

P. Froward said...

"Seriousness in sports"?

Seriousness in sports?!

Yeah, right. "No, that game's no good. It's fun."

Bill said...

But the starting lane thing does seem like a reasonable complaint. Maybe they should have a round-robin setup, so every rider gets, say, three runs?

bill said...

What surprised me is how boring snowboardcross turned out to be. They're not moving particularly fast, and the winner seems to be settled by lane position or whomever grabs the early lead. And crashes are fairly tame, too.

Curling is more dramatic and requires more strategery.

For a combination of speed and potential destruction, nothing beats a mass sprint in the Tour de France. 40-50 guys doing 45 mph while bumping, shoulder slamming, and occasionally punching each other.

Jen Bradford said...

Watching the snowboarders has been a blast, and I especially loved Shaun White, but the lingo makes me feel old.

Plus the amateur thing only works up to a point. Did any of you think Lindsey Jacobellis was embarrassingly unprofessional for hot-dogging and losing the gold as a result? They said she got caught up in the "Olympic spirit", but that seemed more like flipping the Olympics the bird, to me. I didn't feel remotely sorry for her, I must confess.

Bruce Hayden said...

We had real live bordercross (also known as Chinese Downhill) at Keystone Ski Area until Friday. It was a lot more exciting, because it wasn't formalized, there were a lot more involved (skiers and borders), and the speeds were a lot higher.

At that ski area, where I work as a volunteer on a kind of saftey patrol, they groom a bunch of trails between 3 and 4 every day for night skiing. Eight or so grooming machines go up or down a slope in echelon formation, grooming most of it in one run up or down. The groomers come up two blue (intermediate) runs and the runs are closed at the top and swept before they come up. Then, when the ropes drop, the cats go by, and the fun begins. Sometimes you will have 50 people starting at once trying to get the first tracks down the freshly groomed trails. And, the timing is fairly predictable, with the cats getting to the top about 3:20 on the first, and 4:00 on the second, which actually allowed people to run twice in a single day.

Unfortunately, for all the fun it provided, it was dangerous. Top speeds were probably in the 50 mph range, and crashes not uncommon. Luckily, no one went into the trees in the almost two years it ran. In any case, Friday, our group, along with Ski Patrol, started putting up slow signs and pulling passes. End of an era - but arguably, that is what Olympic bordercross should be.

I must admit that I have participated somewhat over the years, despite being in my mid-50s, resulting in skiing much, much, too fast for my age. But we really cheated, working on the closures, it was easy to get a head start.

Bruce Hayden said...

As for border terminology, I guess it doesn't strike me as that odd any more, as I spend quite a bit of time every winter working with, slowing down, and pulling the passes of young snowboarders (and skiers). It just takes getting used to. If you hear it every day, it doesn't sound that weird, and you don't feel nearly as old (I am more than twice as old as most of the snowboarders I deal with).

LoafingOaf said...

patca: The athletes appear to be actually amateur and having a blast!

Yup! I read somewhere that other althletes in the village look at the snowboarders with amusement and jealousy because they're having such a good time. Did you catch Heather Teter (halfpipe winner) on Letterman? What a fun person!

Although, while they seem like amateurs, there's a bit of money in the sport. Shaun White is a millionaire.

bill: the winner seems to be settled by lane position or whomever grabs the early lead.

Then how come in both the men's and women's finals the leader at the halfway mark didn't win the gold? In the men's the lead was overtaken through skills on the turns; in the women's, a dramatic crash on the final jump! In all sports, some races, matches, games are better than others, obviously.

And crashes are fairly tame, too.

Ohh, so you were watching for the crashes! What about the woman racer taken away from the finals on a stretcher????

This probably won't make people take snowboarding more seriously, but I got into the sport because some of the snowboard videogames are so cool, like SSX3. I only wish the tracks in the Olympics were as long as in SSX3!

Kim Cosmopolitan said...

Just chiming in with happiness that I've been quoted in Althouseland! Incidentally, while I do think that Snowboard Cross / boardercross / whatever you want to call it is a pretty dopey sport, this post wasn't intended as an indictment of a single sport, but rather was just part of an ongoing lighthearted debate as to the composition of the winter games.

downtownlad said...

Finally a snowboarding event that shows off the real nature of the sport. The events from four years ago were just copies of skiing, and much more boring.

But this event has still been toned down significantly. Snowboarders want it to contain a lot more jumps, etc. Once boarders gain enough influence in the Olympic Games, expect to have even more exciting events.

Which is a good thing. As it will highlight how pathetic and lame skiing is compared to boarding. Only old people ski.

Sean E said...

An event that's entertaining, requires real athletic ability and has a clear winner? How'd it ever make it into the olympics?

Steve Barton said...

Kim C. is dead-on with this take: "...the one spot on the track (amusingly, the one spot without direct camera coverage) from which one can try to launch a slingshotlike attack on the leader".

More important action happened in that spot you could not see than anywhere else on the course.

Abraham said...

"Boardercross" is supposed to be a play on "motocross," right? Why not call it "snobocross?"

Kev said...

"Why not call it "snobocross?""

Probably because it would get mispronounced all the time. Think SNOB-o-cross...

I really liked that event too; I was at a convention this past week, and I found myself glued to the TV during my downtime whenever snowboard cross came on.