Posts Tagged ‘Winter Olympics’

If you’re not quite ready for spring, why not relive the magic of the Winter Olympics with my recap series for Breach TV?  Here’s an “episode guide” on which action sports events I cover:

There were a lot of things I could have said, but I was asked to do an overview of all the different events.  Also I live-blogged the events I was able to catch live on my personal facebook (with some comments on Twitter).  Now that I’ve taken a long enough break, look forward to more posts, some winter sports-related and others looking forward to the summer.

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I have several issues with Shaun White, who used to be one of my favorite snowboarders.  I’ve followed his career since we were both 14 years old, but over the years, I started to see the criticisms that the community had for him.  It was glaringly obvious at the U.S. Grand Prix this weekend, and Todd Richards has invited a discussion on Shaun’s perfect score.  I want to talk about another issue, one that is much bigger and yet no longer discussed.  In 2016, Shaun’s former bandmate Lena Zawaideh sued him for unpaid wages and sexual harassment.

They reached a settlement early last year, a few months before the Harvey Weinstein cases broke news and the #MeToo movement began.  I wonder if Shaun would have been let off the hook as easily because settlement or not, people are starting to take a stand against sexual harassment, especially in a workplace setting.  The texts that Lena used as evidence could be interpreted in different ways, but in some of them, Shaun is clearly behaving as superior.  Therefore, even if they were “joking” as he claimed, it is still unethical conduct as he is in a position of power.

The exchange is reminiscent of the viral short story “Cat Person”, which highlights a power imbalance between a man and a woman.  Even though Shaun is not much older than Lena and doesn’t hurl misogynistic comments in the texts (she does accuse him of such overall however), he does threaten to send her home for wearing an unappealing outfit and expresses “disappointment” in her decision to keep her hair long.  It’s the kind of language that borders on abusive.

Is this the kind of person we want representing our country?  Okay, this may be the wrong question to ask given who our President is.  The Summer Olympics is currently marred by the horrendous cases of abuse from the U..S.A. Gymnastics team doctor and the silencing of his victims, which included members of the famous Fierce Five.  The U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association should be doing more to take a stand, especially since they seem to have no problem with pressuring Scotty Lago to leave after risque but consensual photos of him were taken.  Should we only care about the athletes’ behavior only during the Olympics?

The snowboarding community hasn’t had the greatest track record with sexual harassment.  Although female snowboarders are finally getting the respect from peers, there are still the little microaggressions that happen behind the scenes.  Recently in a Shredbots video, Red Gerard, another member of Team U.S.A., jokes about wanting a “big booty ‘ho” for Christmas.  While he may have been quoting a song, it’s still discouraging to hear that come out of his mouth.  This is the sort of “locker room” talk that leads to men not facing consequences for harassing (or even assaulting) women.  It’s fine to joke, but we can do it without treating women, or anyone else, like garbage.  We can do better Team U.S.A.  We should do better.

I had quite a few gripes about both the U.S. and Canadian coverage of Olympic snowboarding and freeskiing (and apparently my friends did as well).  It highlighted the inequality that’s rampant in both action sports and media, but that’s a post for another day.  Right now I want to focus on one of the good things that came out of this: the increased opportunity to explore the science behind skiing and snowboarding.  This is a great way to get action sports fans interested in science and scientists interested in action sports.

NBC paired with the National Science Foundation to create a series videos exploring the Science and Engineering of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  They’d done a similar series in 2010, but now they have gone past just a cursory coverage of sports, looking at halfpipe engineering and snow.  There’s also the addition of slopestyle skiing.

If you’re subscribed to The New York Times, you can get access to their interactive stories, which break down gold medal-winning runs and the keys to success.  They’re definitely worth checking out just for the composite photography.  Those without a subscription can catch some of the videos on Hulu.

The blog Physics Buzz did a podcast about snowboarding.  They explained the triple cork better than I ever did, and there’s a link to a post that breaks down the physics of one.

We can’t forget about the Paralympians, especially with the debut of boardcross this year.   Live Science shared an article about the technology that helps these athletes do things their able-bodied peers can do.  I want to take this time to congratulate Evan Strong for grabbing the first U.S. Paralympic gold in Sochi, being a part of the American sweep in men’s boardercross with Michael Shea and Keith Gabel, and making his way onto an upcoming Wheaties box:

Wheaties/Evan Strong

Finally, I came across a surprising mention to snowboarding while listening to the linguistic podcast, A Way with Words.  The term “wind down the windows” caught the attention of host Martha Barnette because it’s becoming a rather dated image (I remember winding down the windows in my dad’s old pick-up as a little kid).  It’s been pretty cool seeing and hearing snowboarding and freeskiing pop up in the most unexpected places.