How To Watch the Winter Olympics

Why I Hated Snowboard Cross
Scenes from the Olympics.
Feb. 17 2006 3:33 PM

How To Watch the Winter Olympics


Can I step in for a moment to register a dissenting opinion? Snowboard cross may be the next great Olympic sport, but NBC did a terrible job presenting it to novice viewers. (Also, shouldn't it have a nickname, like motocross? Maybe sno-bo-cross? Snowboard cross sounds strangely formal.)

I found last night's coverage utterly perplexing. Sure, it was fun to watch four guys, looking cool, hurtling down the mountain. But NBC clearly hasn't figured out how to film this event yet—the cameras kept missing big moments, and the replays were rarely useful. Plus, I was lost when it came to the basic fundamentals of the sport. Here are some of the questions I had for the NBC commentator dudes. What kind of contact is "incidental"? If you're allowed to run your competitors off the course, why don't the racers spend more time doing so? If you're not, why don't the competitors race one at a time, against a clock? And what, exactly, is a speed check? The commentator dudes had no answers for me. They just said "Whoa!" from time to time. And occasionally, "Look at that speed check!" I would have loved to look at it, if I'd known what to look for.

Also, I didn't buy that business about Seth Westcott's hand-built mountainside retreat in Maine. Did you guys see a mountainside retreat? All I saw was a big pile of logs he kept aimlessly sawing at.

I'm with you on the weapons, though. With guns, it could be a kind of biathlon nouveau.


Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.


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