Register Monday | March 19 | 2018

Figure skaters go home!

It's just that you can't pick a clear winner

I like seeing Canadians win medals as much as the next lazy couch potato. It just bothers me when we win one based on the arbitrary druthers of a judge. Let me be clear: events where you need a judge to pick a winner should not be in the Olympics. Let me be clear again: it's not that I don't think these so-called sports aren't difficult (some of the spins those figure skaters do make me dizzy, and my knees hurt when I watched those mogul skiers)-they aren't. It's just that you can't pick a clear winner.

You might say there are judges in hockey-those are referees, son. But the refs don't get to pick a winner. Even the goal judge isn't really a judge. It's not a subjective decision-it's a matter of measurement: did the puck go across the line? (Pineapple alert: Subjective is when it depends on the person. Objective is when you know for sure. Get it?)

Snowboarding-the one with all the tricks, the half-pipe, not the cross race-needs to go as well. Those tricks are beyond anything my body could ever do, but there's no reliable way to tell who does them better. The same is true of freestyle skiing. You can try and measure how high they go, or whether they made the right shape with their skis, but in the end it becomes a subjective call. In biathlon, you've got to hit the target, then ski as fast as you can. No problem there. Ski jumping, for whatever reason, requires judging. Why not just let the person who jumps farthest win? What is the point in judging style, when the better your style, the further you go anyway?

You know it is subjective when the fans boo the announcement of the winner. You never see anyone boo the winner of a race. The winner crosses the line first. They are the winner, there is no question. Even if their favourite player doesn't win, a fan can appreciate the athletic achievement of the winner. In figure skating, it is hard to feel good about your guy coming second when the whole stadium thinks he should have come first.

The judging in figure skating has been known to be suspicious. Even if this has supposedly been cleaned up, you're still askin' for trouble. How can you ever really know? Those judges have to be experts to be able to see all the stuff they're supposed to be seein'. So they must have a long history in the sport. That means they may have made some friends along the way. It must be pretty hard to put your friends down, if they don't jump or spin just right.

Short-track speed skating has had some judging issues, too. But this is still a sport where the first person across the line is the winner (usually). Sometimes the judges have the power to decide who gets to win, but only when they are making sure the rules are followed. There is nothing wrong with have a judge disqualify someone for breaking the rules. When the judge decides the winner, just like that, that's cheap.

In the summer Olympics, gymnastics and diving have got to go. Some might argue that boxing is also judged, but at least in boxing the fighters have the opportunity to knock each other out, and win that way. They could just keep fighting until there is a winner, but you have to think of the safety of the fighters. You could kill a guy in the ring.

So, congrats to Jeff Buttle on his medal. He should be happy: the judges have chosen him as one of the best. But like winning a 50-50 draw at the legion hall, he's got to know that all he really did was buy a whole wack of tickets-and hope the general calls his number. Nice, but don't feel too special. It could have been anyone else.


I'm watching the women's hockey semi-final. The Swedes are giving the Americans a run for their money. It could be 3-1 Sweden, but for the fact that these girls seem to have the hands of a coal miner. It's a bit like watching hockey-only in slow motion. Anyway, the score now is 1-0 for the USA. They keep saying Sweden might win it. We'll see.

We won another medal this morning. In the snowboard cross. I was on the can when it happened, so I didn't catch her name, but good for her. That race is tight.