The Olympics are coming, and I have devised what would unquestionably be the greatest Olympic sporting event in the history of mankind: the Men’s Downhill Ski For Men Who’ve Never Skied.
The rules of the Men’s Downhill Ski For Men Who’ve Never Skied are the same as the regular Olympic alpine downhill, run on the same course on the same slope, except that the competitors must have absolutely no skiing experience of any kind. All prospective competitors must have their names submitted by their country’s Olympic committee a full year in advance, with notarized statements from multiple witnesses close to the victim competitor who can attest to their not being involved in skiing. The IOC would then be able to use private investigators to fully verify that none of the applicants have any skiing experience. (Exceptions might be made for long-forgotten class trips and such.)
On the day of the competition, the “athletes” would be conveyed to the skiing venue, fully outfitted in ski gear and national uniforms, given ten minutes on the bunny hill to try to learn how to ski, and then promptly taken to the top of the course and, in random order, flung down the mountain. The three best times among those who make it to the bottom alive – or dead, if what’s left of them slides across the finish line – get the medals.
Make no mistake about it; this would be the most amazing and popular event in sports history. Consider the advantages of this over other Olympic events:
1. It’s fair. The thing I don’t like about the Olympics is that almost all sports are dominated by a small number of countries; name any Olympic sport and almost anyone else can name the countries that win all the hardware. Skiing events are especially bad for this because they’re dominated by ridiculous little European countries like Austria and Switzerland who are still rich off Nazi gold and the kids all get to school by skiing down the Matterhorn in Spandex lederhosen as they yodel the “Horst Wessel Song.” Going in, you know most countries have no chance in any given event, and some countries hardly ever win any medals in anything.
But in the Men’s Downhill Ski For Men Who’ve Never Skied, all are equal. Every one of the 200 or so countries in the world would have the same chance. Competence is focused, but ineptitude is universal. Every country would be able to send competitors, and every country would have an equal chance. It wouldn’t matter if you were from Switzerland or Swaziland; all have the same chance at glory, and all have the same chance at crippling head trauma. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will win. Countries that have never won a medal at a Winter Games, even ones that never have snow and can barely afford to send any athletes at all to the Games, would have reason to watch the competition and cheer on their boys.
Furthermore, the Men’s Alpine Skiing For Men Who Don’t Ski competition would be accessible to anyone no matter their income. The fact is a lot of Winter Games sports are heavily dominated by rich white kids whose parents are sufficiently wealthy to allow them time to engage in freestyle snowboarding or whatever the hell else they’re into. But in the Men’s Downhill Ski For Men Who’ve Never Skied event, having the time and money to practice skiing disqualifies you. Everyone from the richest white kid to the humblest subsistence farmer could, assuming they’re not especially frightened of broken limbs and internal injuries, compete and have a shot at winning.
2. It would be fun. In fact, I believe this would be the most popular sporting event in the history of the world.
Let’s be honest; in most sports at this level the average schmuck can’t tell the difference between the competitors. You can’t really perceive the difference between the Austrian who runs the course in 1.47.73 and the Italian who does it in 1.47.98.
But in Men’s Alpine Skiing For Men Who Don’t Ski, you certainly could tell the difference between the cab driver from Edinburgh who, having lost one ski twenty yards from the starting gate, goes hurtling through a snow fence and off a 90-foot cliff to a certain death just 15 seconds into his run, and the carpenter from Laos who tumbles down the hill, doing cartwheels for a full 2,000 metres while ski equipment flies off him all the way, finally crawling across the finish line wearing nothing more than his underwear and one wrecked ski boot to the cheering and applause of tens of thousands of bloodthirsty spectators. Oh, you might not remember whether that last real skier was Lars Larsson or Fritz Hitler, but I guarantee you’d remember Juan Escalona Rodriguez, the accountancy student from Buenos Aires, skier #173 in the Men’s Downhill Ski For Men Who’ve Never Skied Event, whose unfortunate inability to steer left at Turn 7 causes him to hit a concrete lift pillar at 85 miles an hour, resulting in explosive decapitation, his head sailing eighty yards into a crowd of souvenir-hungry Olympic ticketholders.
And don’t tell me you don’t want to see it. You’re already thinking “Holy shit, this would be the greatest thing ever.” See, it’s one thing to see a bunch of professional athletes zipping by, all looking more or less the same, competing over the tiniest differences in following the same technique. It’ll be quite something else to see N!Ginta from Namibia, who loses his nerve at the last minute and has to be thrown from the starting gate by hired thugs, sailing backwards down Mount Laceration waving his arms and shrieking like a little girl while a billion people watch, unable to tear their eyes from the TV, thinking, “This guy might die. Or he might win. Either way, this is fricking awesome.”
3. It would be true to the Olympic spirit. The fact is that the Olympics are no longer an amateur sporting competition held for the benefit of brotherhood. They’re a professional sporting contest where full time athletes compete to see who can get some endorsement contracts. I know you know a guy whose sister’s boyfriend’s cousin was an Olympian and finished fifty-third in the 200-metre dog paddle and he just did it for love of sport, but you and I both know he was there with a lot more support than most of us jerks will ever get from the government. As a matter of fact, the whole thing’s so shameless that every four years Canadian newspapers whine and bitch that the government doesn’t do more to pay prospective Olympians to just train full time, the idea being that the taxpayers should have to work their grim, soul-crushing jobs so Mindy from Kamloops can spend all day practicing freestyle aerials and either lose, thereby returning no value to the taxpayers, or win, thereby enabling her to appear in McCain commercials asking us to buy products and pay consumption taxes, thereby returning no value to the taxpayers.
But I am proposing an event that is just about as amateur as you can get, an event where the competitors don’t even have any familiarity with the sport and are competing purely for the sake of competing. They can’t be supported by the government beyond plane fare and a uniform.
Furthermore, you could really expand the size of this event. I think Olympic skiing events typically have 50-100 competitors; there’s no reason the Men’s Alpine Skiing For Men Who Don’t Ski event can’t have five hundred or more. Invite every single country with an Olympic committee to send four or five guys. For most of them it’s their only chance at a gold; they’ll fill the roster. Start at daybreak and heave them down one after another; when one wipes out just send down another even as they’re scooping up the last one. If you start running out of daylight late in the day start sending them down two or three at a time. It would be the ultimate participation event; fully fifteen to twenty percent of the entire Olympic athlete list could be in this event.
Of course, the medal winners could cash in after the fact because, quite frankly, I think the winners would be hailed as the greatest heroes in the entire history of sport. Think about it. Most Olympic winners are no surprise, and in many cases it’s almost the minimal expectation. But in the Men’s Downhill Ski For Men Who’ve Never Skied, just surviving will be the exception. When Ramanathan Arulanantham from Sri Lanka, defying the odds, somehow pulls himself across the finish line, his face bruised and his underwear pooped, just a few seconds faster than that guy from Belize who crossed the finish line ahead of his own right arm, the world will hail him as the greatest athletic hero of all time; here is an ordinary man, a common dude, who braved an impossible task and somehow, incredibly, won. Isn’t that a hell of a lot more impressive that seeing people who do that shit full time do it for the millionth time? I’d put that dude’s poster up in my living room.