Doing a gruelling Saturday-Sunday shift last weekend in the office, I found myself in a state of distraction, eyes wandering from my desk, unable to concentrate on any tasks in hand. No, I was not hung over, or not any more than normal.
Instead, it was because the TV screens in the office had live coverage of the slopestyle snowboarding at the Olympics, and I found myself simply unable to tear my eyes away.
Is this the most exciting event ever in the history of Olympic sport? Not only does it have the grace of ballet, the speed of downhill and the drama of the ski-jump, it has aerobatics that would challenge an Olympic 10-metre board diver. And, of course, it’s bloody dangerous too, with plenty of crashes. As they say, what’s not to like?
Now, to some extent, I don’t know what I’m talking about here. But that, as far as I am concerned, is the whole point. It may be hard to believe in this era of Sportstalk Extra and Five Live, but there are those of us, like me, who find nearly all spectator sport as dull as the Olympic curling qualifiers.
Premier League football? Boring. Wimbledon? Snoresville, even with Andy Murray (and I speak as a Scot). The World Cup? Only worth watching in the hope that England will lose (for which the odds are also better than hoping Scotland will win). In fact, the only thing I ever really enjoyed as a spectator sport is snooker (again the product of growing up in a wet 1980s Scotland during the Stephen Hendry era).
For to me, the definition of a thrilling sport is something that I simply cannot do myself at all. Therefore the mens’ 100 metres, for all that it may be the pinnacle of athletic achievement, isn’t that exciting as they are simply running rather faster than I can myself. Watching it, I can’t really tell the difference between a world record breaking performance and a county event down at my local athletics: they will both be composed of sprinters running very fast indeed, with perhaps a second’s difference between them.
By contrast, just as I will never be able to do a century break in snooker – or even, say, 24 – I will never be able to emulate Jenny Jones’s death-defying antics. So, as a very poor amateur snowboarder myself, I take my helmet, knee pads, wrist-guards, gloves and back-protector plate off to whoever decided to get slopestyle into the Winter Olympics. And at the same time, let me also extend my condolences, condolences to all those super-fast downhill skiers, slalomists and mogulling types whose only achievement is mere perfection in their sport. Sorry folks, it’s just not exciting enough any more.
Instead, I think, the only solution is yet more mixing and mixing of different Olympic disciplines, of which the slopestyle and freestyle skiing are two good examples.
How about ski-jumping for the luge, for example? The potential for Eddie the Eagle style-spills would be tremendous. Or hi-speed curling, where teams race around, ice-hockey style, with an enormous stone puck? What about speed skaters going down the bobsleigh run?
And finally – just for me – how about a new biathlon event, combining slopestyle and er, snooker, rather than cross-country shooting and skiing? If you could break off halfway down the slope, Jenny, and knock out a quick 147, then I will finally be in telly sporting heaven.
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