Five-ring Circus

Gorging on Courage Porn

Hey, Seth:

Though I shared your visceral discomfort in watching the punishing jolts of the freestyle moguls course, I enjoyed that competition a bit more than you did. For one thing, being an emotional adolescent, I still get a minor case of the giggles hearing skiers and announcers emit X Games slang in this nominally lofty context; freestyle, like snowboarding, offers a safe, nonjudgmental place to get “stoked” and feel “awesome.”

Perhaps that unpretentious vocabulary helps advance the idea that these dudes are regular dudes. Taking the steps necessary to become an Olympian is as abnormal as doing what it takes to win a presidential race or become a movie star, and too many of these athletes seem to have square slabs of ambition where their personalities ought to be. (And then, in another category, you’ve got your performance artists; if I had a time machine, I’d like to match up Johnny Weir and young Cassius Clay for a triathlon consisting of a rap battle, a dance-off, and a press conference.) Point is, a preponderance of freestyle skiers pass the I’d-have-a-beer-with-him test.

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As does Ohno. I haven’t yet decided whether his skanky little soul-patch is a force for good, but I do think that, given his resemblance to Dave Navarro, he could pick up some grooming tips from the guitarist.

Lindsey Kildow
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We need to consider rejiggering your taxonomy of Olympic fame to accommodate the downhill skier Lindsey Kildow. Before the games began, the powers that run the star machinery—desperately seeking a fresh young face with a blue-ribbon smile —settled on Kildow as their babe. Events necessitated a revision of this script, of course. Please imagine the tinkling of a forlorn piano as you soak in the melodrama of NBC’s Jimmy Roberts: “The United States hasn’t had a true speed champion at the games since Picabo Street eight years ago, so when Lindsey Kildow went airborne on Monday, there was already a murmur of resignation.”

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By now, it should be lodged in your long-term memory that, during her training run, Kildow suffered a 50-mile-per-hour wipeout and landed in the hospital. NBC showed the crash—”stomach-churning” and “spectacular” and “awful”—no fewer than seven times yesterday, including one sadistic lingering shot accompanied by the gratuitous soundtrack of her animal yelps of pain. Yet, impressively, Kildow was back on the mountain yesterday. There was a maniacal edge to her laugh when she aimed her perfect teeth at the camera and confided that she was on “some good medication.” Was she bruised, NBC? “Her body is bruised but not her spirit.” Were there, perhaps, emotional ramifications? There was “emotional scar tissue.” She raced, finishing well out of medal contention, but finishing nonetheless.

She was brave. She held her head high. This was courage porn. I ate it up.

Unabashedly,
Troy

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