In which cross-country skiing becomes infinitely more interesting than downhill skiing. I’m just as surprised as you are.

The evening begins with Men’s Slalom, which is another Downhill event in which no American has a chance. In fact, the top American skier comes in 18th, that’s how far away from the podium we are in this particular event. And that wouldn’t be a big deal if 1. Downhill Skiing were interesting IN THE LEAST and not one of the most repetitive events in all of the Olympics, Summer Games included, 2. if we were just being treated to a highlights package instead of enduring a live feed of every damn skier who happens to be at the gate or 3. if one half of our announcing team didn’t talk in a relentless monotone that lulls babies and bloggers to sleep. I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU, BODE MILLER. I CAN’T HEAR A DAMN THING YOU ARE SAYING, BODE MILLER. LEARN TO TALK, BODE MILLER.

In fact, the only interesting thing that happens in the 30 minutes we are forced to endure of this event is that Austrian skier and expected medalist Marcel Hirscher — who has already won two gold medals in these Games in Men’s Combined and Men’s Giant Slalom —  crashes, but he doesn’t even crash spectacularly. Even the crash is boring.

This isn’t a crash. This is what I look like when I’ve made a successful stop after a long run. Or at least it’s what I think I look like.

Or at least I think Hirscher was expected t medal and won those other two golds, since I CAN’T HEAR YOU, BODE MILLER, LEARN TO MODULATE YOUR VOICE JUST A LITTLE, DUDE.

But this is just a great example of how NBC has futzed up this Olympics, a complaint that Bobby made in his post yesterday. Because the Games are happening live in South Korea during our primetime hours, NBC has decided to prioritize live events that aren’t actually all that interesting, like all of these Downhill competitions. I understand giving prime time coverage to an event that Lindsey Vonn is competing in — NO, NOT TRAINING RUNS, NBC — but I don’t understand giving 30 live minutes of Men’s Downhill Skiing in which we don’t have a horse in the race. This time could have been better spent on either a different live event, or in a piece about an event that happened while we were all sleeping which has been edited and packaged to make it actually interesting.

WHY YES, I DO HAVE AN EXAMPLE, THANK YOU FOR ASKING.

We are dumped into another event with nary an explanation of what we are looking at (something else NBC keeps doing in these Games), which happens to be Women’s Team Sprint Cross-Country Skiing. WAIT! WAIT! COME BACK! IT’S REALLY INTERESTING! I PROMISE!

I am the first person to tell you that cross-country skiing is some boring-ass bullshit, but I will also tell you that this particular race, in which teams of two women cross-country ski AS FAST AS THEY CAN — UP HILL — in a relay ended up being one of the most compelling races I’ve seen in these Games — which is why NBC chose to show it to us even though it took place while the rest of us were sleeping, and is an event that Americans typically could give two shits about.

Cross-Country Skiing belongs to the Nords: this is a sport that Norway, Sweden, Finland own seeing as this is how they primarily make their way around the frozen tundra six months of the year. (I AM NOT KATIE COURIC AND I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE.) And for most of the race, those are exactly the teams who seem to have event locked down, with the pesky pink-haired Americans constantly applying pressure from behind. But in the last stretch of the last turn, damned if Team USA’s Jessica Diggins didn’t just PUSH and manages to slide across the finish line .2 of a second ahead of her competition from Norway.

SUCK IT, NORWEGIANS. GO BACK TO NORWEGIA.

After, Team USA’s skiers give a perfunctory interview which is not even really worth mentioning, except that the interviewer asks Diggins, “Growing up, you had a poster of Bill Koch on your wall. How does it feel to think that some kids may have a poster of you on their wall one day?” This makes Diggins burst into tears, which is sweet, but before we move on, I have many questions.

  1. What kind of weirdo puts a poster of a 1980s cross-country skier on their wall?
  2. If that weirdo were inclined to put a poster of a 1980s cross-country skier on their wall, where would they find said poster?
  3. Is there a cross-country skier poster market out there that I just don’t know about because I don’t care about cross-country skiing?
  4. No, really, what the hell?

Sadly, I receive no satisfying answers.

We then move on to Women’s Team Pursuit Speed Skating which should be renamed “Women’s Team Chaos.” There are 30? 40? people on the ice, shoving each other by the ass, and skating frantically in a circle. Team USA is in there somewhere, just trust me, they apparently win the bronze, to Japan’s gold (at an Olympic record time) and the Netherland’s silver. However, I must point out again that Team USA’s victory is undermined by their horrible, horrible, humiliating outfits.

WHO DESIGNED THIS?
WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS? I DEMAND NAMES.

We swing by Women’s Bobsledding for the final runs, and Team USA manages to win silver, but let’s all be honest, we’re really here for Team Nigeria and Team Jamaica who sadly come in last and next to last, but first in my heart.

And then, back to Women’s Alpine Skiing for the Combined race and Bode Miller’s monotone.

And this, despite what Bobby or NBC or Lindsey herself might have told you, THIS is Lindsey’s REAL SERIOUSLY FOR REAL THIS TIME final race in the Olympics.

Unless she is chosen for the Team event, which if NBC has a vote, will definitely happen.

It should be mentioned that Mikaela Shiffrin, the Chosen Successor, is also in this race, not that you would know based on NBC’s slavish coverage of Vonn.

It should also be noted that because this is a live event, we only see one half of it: the downhill section, but not the slalom, in which Vonn missed a gate and ended up disqualified.

Mikaela Shiffrin, meanwhile, took the silver.

But here’s an idea, NBC, since you LURVVVE Lindsey Vonn so much: fire Bode “Nyquil” Miller and hire Lindsey Vonn for the 2022 Olympics. It still won’t make downhill skiing events interesting, but I suspect more people will stay awake through them.

The final event in primetime was Men’s Halfpipe Freestyle Skiing which we drop into during the third of three runs, again, with little preamble or explanation as to what is going on.

Now, unlike our friend Bobby, I love these freestyle skiing events and could watch them all day. The tricks, the CRASHES — my God, the crashes — and all the doofy skibros who by all measure should be off behind a hot dog shack on a ski mountain somewhere getting high and not representing their country on the world’s biggest stage, I LOVE ALL OF IT.

And this particular competition, it is not short on the dramaz. When we join the halfpipe, New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, at 16 and the country’s second-youngest Olympian EVER, puts down a lackluster performance. But it’s all cool, he banked a 94.80 in the second run and is in the lead. This is how he reacted when he learned his score:

Also, he’s super adorable and seems like someone my kid would be buddies with. I want to hug him.

Canada’s Noah Bowman, we learn, used to be “allergic to the cold” — WHICH I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WAS A THING, THAT’S A THING? ALLERGIC TO THE COLD? DO I HAVE IT? I MIGHT HAVE IT. I NEED TO TALK TO A DOCTOR. — which might explain his horrific crash.

Embed from Getty Images

And that, Marcel Hirscher, that is how you crash.

Meanwhile, Team USA’s David Wise from Reno had a terrible day on the halfpipe thanks to hiring some drunk ski rental dudes to take care of his bindings. Before his third run, he finds someone who knows what they are doing, and puts in a SPECTACULAR performance which I wish I could show you in a video or a gif but NBC is not playing nice with their copyright today.

Embed from Getty Images

David Wise and his improved bindings score a 97.20, and he wins the gold, fellow Team USA member Alex Ferreira taking the silver, and my little New Zealand buddy, Nico, taking bronze.

Nico also wins the Foolish gold in Adorable Reactions:

I heart him so much, y’all. I want a hug, too.

One last note: The Women’s Hockey final also took place last night, beginning at 10 p.m. CST. Now ask me how much of it was shown on NBC proper. Go ahead, ask. That’s right, Bob, none of it was, not even in the post-prime time spot, which was wholly devoted to more downhill skiing. This, despite the fact that Team USA and Team Canada were in the finals. Team USA won the gold, in a 2-3 shootout, the most exciting way to end a match, no less. But NBC decided that you wanted to watch a bunch of Swedes ski down a mountain instead.

I SWEAR TO GOD, GET IT TOGETHER, NBC.

But also, U!-S!-A! U!-S!-A! U!-S!-A!

Alright, Bobby is back tonight for his final Olympic downhill run, and it looks like he will have a full four hours of skating, both of the short track and the figure variety.

 

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2 thoughts on “In which cross-country skiing becomes infinitely more interesting than downhill skiing. I’m just as surprised as you are.

  1. OK I have been so concerned about those women’s speed skating crotch-centric outfits. Why, Americans? Why point to the vulva? (We do not think you are so evolved as to do this in an interesting, evolved way.) Also, why enclose the thighs in white. It’s so unflattering and also weird!

    Liked by 1 person

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