You Must Read: The Grey Lady pokes fun at ski jumping

Ski Jumping Fans

Austrian and Polish fans at the ski jumping venue Monday. It's these fans, according to Branch, who may make a more interesting show. (Marcin Chady / Flickr / CC-A)

Boy, the New York Times is using its funny these days, especially where the Olympics are concerned.  Yesterday, the Times let lose with a howler blasting NBC’s coverage as overly emotional, partisan and just plain bad.  The story’s lead gives it away:

Curling is a favorite Olympic guilty pleasure, but so is churling, a home game that consists of sneering at the triumphalism and bathos of NBC’s coverage. (Hurling is its X Games equivalent.)

The article then goes on to churl away at the coverage.

Now, an entry last night on the Times’ Olympics blog “Rings” by John Branch pokes some gentle fun at the ancient sport of ski jumping.  No, we’re not talking about the kind you see on the X Games, with people soaring dozens of feet above ground and spinning like out-of-control gyroscopes.  We’re talking about traditional ski jumping.  And, according to Branch, the best show may be in the audience rather than on the hill:

There were grandstands, but most fans stood at the bottom, bunched by rooting interest — the Austrians here, the Poles there, the Japanese in between. Others without nationalistic props spread a blanket on the snow. They ate, drank and watched their children nap in the sun. It felt like a concert in the park.

“Hey, folks, this isn’t a golf tournament,” a voice on the public-address system said during one lull.

So this is what extreme sports at the Winter Olympics used to look like…

Put this in the category of sports Americans don’t get.  It might have something to do with the fact that the last American jumper of note placed no higher than 4th in his career, and managed only 11th place in the 2002 Salt Lake City games.  He does hold the American distance record, though, at 727 feet, putting him again in 11th place in the world.

Bonus points to Branch for managing to sneak in a Saturday Night Live reference in a discussion of an Olympic sport.

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