“Competitions are for horses.”
— Composer Bela Bartok
It’s weird times at the IOC headquarters right now. The Japanese delegation has been lobbying inexplicably for team hide-and-seek in the 2020 games (this is true). Everybody’s probably on some performance-enhancing drug that they don’t have a test for yet. And to top it all off, the Ex-Extreme-Now-X-Games is dominating the Youth Segment eyeballs that advertisers love, perhaps due to their susceptibility to the hypnotic appeal of bright shiny things that twirl through the air. So the normally staid IOC has thrown it in with Orange County (or at least Summit County), adding slopestyle, halfpipe, and ski cross (ironically, just as EXPN or whatever it is now, abandoned Skier-X), while dropping such “contrived” sports as wrestling.
It will be interesting to see how the IOC does with producing and exploiting action sports. I’m hoping there will be less visual clutter and flashing lights, fewer vapid talking heads in branded baseball caps. Little or no Shaun White. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some kind of awkward outburst from a wild-eyed Tanner Hall.
At any rate, if the Olympics want to compete with the X-Games, they need to get ahead of the cultural curve, not play catch up. Initially, the X-Games featured dozens of absurd (shovel racing) or geeky/culturally misaligned (extreme hiking, speed-climbing, roller-blading) events, but they’ve adapted by shedding them and focusing on events that “resonate” with the kids. Of course, sometimes it takes people dying to make them realize that something like Freestyle Snowmoto-X as a general concept is about as viable as Freestyle Chainsaw, but hey, that’s showbiz.
So rather than trying to appease athletes, some of whom will always be willing to Go For It and become kamikaze human sacrifices on the bloodstained Altar of Gnar, I suggest that the IOC focus on creating all-new winter events that track a little more closely with the kind of things that people are into these days. Or at least ones with some potential for humor, which you can bet won’t be a big feature of the Sochi Games. If you asked the Russians for a new event idea they’d probably suggest Competitive Homophobia or Making Journalists Disappear.
What do people do these days anyway? Look for a job? That’s not much of an event.
Competitive Facebooking? Twerking? Crossfit. On ice skates! Something involving Fireball shots would have been perfect for 2014…
The Tough Mudder thing is also huge. What if you combined that format with skiing? Team Chinese Downhill with mud pond obstacles! And mandatory costumes…mandatory costumes of your nation’s traditional clothing, so we could tell everyone apart during the thick of it. With a little luck that might lead to genuine ethnic conflict, which ought to get some press. Picture a mass of people in lederhosen, turbans, grass skirts, and toreador outfits, covered in viscous mud and wrestling James Bond-style while clattering down an icy downhill course at 70 mph. The slo-mo replays would incredible.
Or how about a ski decathlon? Let’s see who the real best skier is. Events would include downhill, slalom, moguls, rail jam, ski mountaineering, gelande jumping, powder 8′s, half-pipe, GS, and winter driving. With maybe even an après category. Vodka shots, anyone?
Speaking of Olympic revelry, judging by people’s enthusiasm Closing Day Parties also are really popular. Why not make it an Olympic event? A team of elite judges will assign points for overall style, chemical ingestion, congeniality, spraying people, being naked, yodeling, and stashing beer around the hill.
One might say the same of Beater Day. I would volunteer to lead the IOC Task Force that investigates the Beater Day vs. Closing Day scenario. It’s undeniable that there is indeed some overlap there. As a trained Ski Journalist, I’d like to get all up in that overlap and find the Real Truth.
And for the sake of all humanity, we’ve got to fix Mogul Skiing (this is the only serious suggestion on this list). These are the craziest athletes, and it’s the event with most energy and action. So why choke it with boring straight courses, machine-made bumps, identical jumps and fascist scoring? These skiers can do insane shit—give them the format and they will blow minds. How about a course with some natural terrain? Even artificial natural terrain? Put a couple of hip jumps or a wall ride on the side of the course. Aim the kickers diagonally at weird trannies on the other side of the course. Something. Anything. Millions of souls cry out in anguish.
Finally, I understand why there are all the rules and restrictions (blah, blah, blah, safety, whatever), but what if there was an Unlimited Division for ski racing? Dangerous courses, no equipment restrictions, no banned steroids or drugs. I want super-human mutants hurtling to their doom before maddened crowds screeching for blood. Hey, it works for the NFL.
G Event Sampler
The Super Duper G: The Super G was a major innovation in ski racing—finally an event to fill the gaping void between Downhill and Giant Slalom. So why stop there? This one would fit midway between the standard Downhill and Super G, with skiers hurtling at breakneck speeds while still thrown a curve or two with gates. As close as you can get to the downhill, but not quite.
Hyper G: For athletes with ADHD.
VD/STD G: Athletes score points by scoring.
The Intra G: The first Olympic event where athletes compete in the inward journey. Skiers will meditate in the start gate and visualize their run, which will be scored via brainwave analysis by a team of Tibetan monks.
The Micro G: Same course as the standard Super G, but racers will use snowlerblades.
The Mini G: At last an event for little people. Horizontal limbo poles will be attached to every gate at a height of 32 inches, forcing racers to either get low via a Worm Turn or Polish Donut-type maneuver, or be very short. It might even bring back the age of Jet Sticks.
The Mono G: The post-Killy French will have a chance to dominate something again.
The Dodecahedra G: Perhaps the most intricate and cerebral Winter Olympic event, the Dodecahedra G requires you to race Super G while simultaneously playing chess and calculating quadratic equations.
The Narco G: Athletes will be required to compete on a mix of ketamine and PCP.
The O.G.: Elderly criminals from around the world will meet and determine who is the Original Gangster via a two-run format Super G. Generally, they will all DNF into the fencing and be taken to the hospital, leading to a Freestyle Sudden Death Overtime where a (posthumous) winner is determined by a complex formula assigning style points for offshore accounts, number of henchmen, menacingness of prison tattoos, and amplitude.