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Triple 1080 Fakey Sow Cows February 18, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Posts with titles that sound like a horror movie.
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Remember what I wrote yesterday about watching someone perform and then imagining myself doing the same thing? Well, last night while watching the Olympic snowboard half pipe competition I did not once have that thought. I mostly marveled at the flips and twists and Shaun White. Dude is just worlds better than everyone else. He had already won the gold medal and did not need his second run, but just for grins he pulled out some bizarre new jump that no one has ever witnessed before. Skillz. Righteous.

So last night I stayed up until midnight watching downhill skiers and speedskaters and snowboarders and I had a ball. Tonight, Amy will be staying up late, because I think they’re showing the riveting conclusion to men’s figure skating. I’ll be asleep, but not before a few snarky jokes about sequins and the kiss-and-cry area. I will use my lisp voice for these jokes. At least, that was the plan, before I had this unsettling thought this morning: Snowboard half pipe and figure skating are pretty much the same.

 Consider the following:

Both rely entirely on judges to award their winners. Both will have instances of fans and commentators questioning the basis for a certain score, since no one watching either sport understands the scoring.

Both have jumps with strange names. Listen to the announcers, and apart from the strange name, it’s the same. “And, wow, look at that! Huge height on that [double cork fakey ten eighty / quadruple sow cow lutz]!” (See what I mean?)

Both are cold, and performed on a slippery white surface, and both require gliding very fast across that snow or ice.

Both involve costumes. Here’s where you say, “Now hold on a minute, mister! Ain’t no sequins in half pipe!” True, I reply, but as I watched the half pipe I realized they’re wearing clothing just for effect as well. The speedskaters have flashy colors on their suits, but the suits themselves are all about maximizing speed. The US snowboarders had these big puffy plaid coats, and while they did serve the purpose of keeping the boarder warm, if you watched carefully, you noticed this: they had hoods! That’s just fashion for effect. They’re already wearing helmets. Why do they need a hood?

Both involve some kind of equipment on the feet. Snowboarders finish and unstrap their boots. Skaters finish and put on their little blade booties.

Both involve crashes, and some people just watch for the crashes. (It bears mentioning that in this way and this way alone, both figure skating and snowboarding are pretty much the same as NASCAR. Now I’m hitting where it hurts.)

If the athlete does not crash, the exact same term is used to describe the performance: “Clean”. As in, “He’s really hoping for a clean [run/program] here.”

After the crash or clean run, both require the participant to stand around and wait for his scores, looking sad or happy, respectively.

Okay, this is where the two diverge a bit. There is copious crying in figure skating; not so much in snowboarding. Half pipe is a male sport in which females also participate; figure skating definitely feels like a female sport in which males participate. Snowboarders actively seek a certain persona: the wasted skate rat rebel punk. Many figure skaters actively seek a certain persona: female.

Those differences notwithstanding, you simply cannot argue that one is a sport and the other is not. It’s either both or neither. You cannot suggest that one involves extraordinary athleticism and the other does not. Does that mean I’m staying up late tonight to watch the sequins and the crying? Probably not. But if Amy reads this, I’ll certainly have less ammunition for my snarky jokes.

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Comments»

1. amy geil - February 18, 2010

That’s what I THOUGHT!


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