Everybody knows the downhill is the best Winter Olympics event. The speed! The danger! The mind-boggling athleticism of the participants! The weird cowbell! I love it so much. If there were a downhill skiing network in my cable package, I would watch it for hours every day. I cannot get enough of the stuff.
You may not remember this, but the 1992 games in Albertville, France, featured a skiing event that had nearly all... or, well, okay, a fraction of the athletic drama of the downhill, but with like 10 times as much absurdity, plus big silly-looking Darth Vader helmets and the possibility that one of the skiers would take a tumble onto the hard snow at 150 miles per hour and wind up with his skin melted into jelly by the friction:
The noise cut down as I accelerated but the wind lifted my left ski and pulled out my left hand. Then the right hand went down and the skis crossed. I hit on the left side and click, the skis were gone and I slid into the timing trap, arm up, bouncing high in the air and heading for the timing post. I turned my head and hit real hard and I thought I might break my neck with the helmet and I put my arms behind it to protect myself. I bounced up in the air, down, and kept sliding. I was trying to brake with my bare hands and fingernails in the snow and with my toes.
I was sliding down on my belly and it was so hot and I was screaming down through the trap and I knew that was a healthy sign. I stopped about 500 meters below the trap and at the edge of red fencing. I was afraid to look at my hands, for they had no feeling. My side and back burned. I stood up. “I want to get off the mountain. I want to get my skis and get off the mountain,” I said to myself. I quickly turned black and blue and green. I squished when I sat down. My right side, left side and hand were still numb and my skin was a jelly substance where it had burned into the suit.
I am talking about: Speed skiing!
Look at how damn fast they’re going! They sound like jet engines by the time they get to the bottom. The whole entire sport is just “get going real frickin’ fast on this perfectly straight slope.” That’s it. It’s nuts and it rules so hard. It’s pretty much everything I have ever wanted in a winter Olympic sport, because pretty much everything I have ever wanted in a winter Olympic sport is benignly insane Nordic people rocketing toward outrageous danger in wild disproportion to the available glory, in colorful jumpsuits that tell me what country they’re from.
Luge and skeleton and bobsled and of course the mighty downhill are all great for this, and they’re all better sports overall, but they’re missing the towering, galactic stupidity of speed skiing, a sport whose actual athletic discipline is “crouch for 20 seconds, or die.” It was only a “demonstration sport” in 1992, meaning it wasn’t an official part of the games and its medals did not count. It has not appeared in a Winter Olympics since then. That’s dumb. Bring back speed skiing!