Realistic rating: 9.0
I tuned into some sweet ski jumping action last week and quickly realized it had to be the most boring sport I’d ever seen. Made-for-TV packaging doesn’t help either: The qualifying rounds, a condensed broadcast that just rapid-fired through all the action, still bores you after no more than a few jumps. Four-hour Tour de France stages are more interesting. Even the women’s final, which should have been an incredibly awesome finish (the last jumper, German Carina Vogt, took gold on her final leap), lacked any drama. So why does ski jumping fail so spectacularly as a spectator sport?
Answer: The lack of instantly identifiable exciting moments due to the fact that we have to wait for judges to assign “style points.”
The only noticeable cheers all week were when a German guy completely ate it on his landing and quickly popped up. So no, not a long jump, great landing, or anything else drew a really loud cheer—just the assurance that one of the competitors hadn’t become an insta-quadriplegic. Exciting stuff!
In a piece in The Atlantic this week, I wrote about why judging in ski jump should be eliminated and how this change could be implemented.
Now, I’ll concede that if there were ever an pure distance/height event that had some kind of landing component, this would probably be it. Admittedly, it does make some sense that a jumper who belly flops like a rag doll should be penalized a bit versus someone who sticks the landing, but those should really be the only two delineations: landing on your skis or not. (I’m trying to view this sport as it would be applied in real-life conditions. If you’re a CIA spy fleeing Soviets in Siberia, who cares if you don’t have a flawless landing when you ski over that cliff? If you crash and burn, though, then sure, that’s probably an issue.)
Bonus: I also offer my unequivocal endorsement for this addendum: