The Slatest

The Best Photo We Didn’t Use This Week: Two Tussling Bears

Two bear mascots wrestling in the snow.
What are these bears up to? Sandra Behne/Bongarts/Getty Images

Slate’s homepage editors spend a lot of time looking for editorial photos to put on our site. Those searches sometimes yield unexpected results: random, perplexing, and mesmerizing photos that don’t belong on the homepage, but that are too good not to share. Every week, we’ll share the weirdest photo from the wires.

What search term did you use to find this in Getty?
“bear in snow”

What were you hoping to find?
A photo of a snow-covered bear going berserk to accompany this article on the cocaine bear.

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What did you find instead?
Bears covered in snow, yes, but of a very different nature. The mascots’ poses are rich with possible interpretations. Their passion blurs the line between pleasure and violence. Is the bear on top strangling the one on the bottom? Is this playful roughhousing, a brawl, or something more sensual?

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What’s really going on in this photograph?
These tussling bears, each an iteration of “Bumsi,” were two of the host city’s mascots at the 2007 Biathlon World Championships in Anterselva, Italy. They were playing during the women’s 15-kilometer individual event.

Why exactly is the mascot called “Bumsi”?
According to the organization’s website, the name is meant to sound like a gun going off:

as biathlon consists of cross-country skiing and shooting, and as the sound of skiing can hardly be reproduced by human speech, but the sound of shots can (Boom - Boom - Boom), this ‘Boom - Boom - Boom’ was turned into the name ‘Bumsi’.

Why is this the weird photo of the week?
For somehow managing to be weirder than a metaphorical representation of a bear snorting cocaine.

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