We mentioned when we started our Olympic coverage that if you had something interesting about the Olympic you would to share to drop us a line. We are now happy to present to you an article from one of our readers who took us up on our offer. Please enjoy our special guest columnist, CJS regular Corriander.
Tight pants? There are no tight pants in snowboarding!
Uniform styles have always been a hot topic in all sports and the Olympics are no exception. There was a ton of attention directed at Michael Phelps’ new Speedo at the Beijing games. Now we have our own controversies for the Vancouver games and some of them are just ridiculous. Think that they have something to do with new technology (like the Speedo) or with competitive advantage? If so, you are wrong.
Usually ice skating is the event that draws attention because of the skaters’ costume choices. Sure, there are those this year. Johnny Weir re-designed his costume after threats from PETA and there was some hubbub about an ice dancing pair’s aboriginal inspired costumes. But those are to be expected in an Olympic event where it seems that half of the attention to the event is directed not at ability, but style. During the Vancouver games, we’ve seen drama from an event that claims to be laid-back and drama-free.
I find it hilarious that snowboarders, supposedly the most laid-back of all athletes, are getting worked up about style. Usually they are only concerned with whose tricks are the sickest and what tunes to put on their iPod. But they have fashion concerns also. In snowboard cross there is a gentlemen’s agreement that their clothing not be too tight. Now I suppose you think it’s just a gentlemen’s agreement because snowboarders are so anti-establishment that they don’t want to put any actual rules to enforce their style preferences. Nope, it appears that they requested official rules, but none were put in place. And everyone knows there’s nothing like a gentlemen’s agreement to show how important something is. Wear the wrong thing and those fashion police, er I mean bad-ass, snowboarders won’t invite you out to play next time. It kind of reminds me the movie Mean Girls, if you show up to school in sweatpants, you’ll have to eat lunch by yourself.
The issue is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation, tight pants. Now, after watching this disease overtake my younger brother who seems to have forgotten he’s not 15 years old, I understand just how serious this is. You might be thinking that these new tight pants must be like the speed suits of the alpine skiers, which would be shocking to the “pants on the ground” style that snowboarders seem to comfortable with. But these “new” snowboard pants are not tight pants and they’re not really new either. They’re called ski pants. But according to Nate Holland, a US snowboard cross Olympian, these emo-style tighter pants are threatening the integrity of the sport of snowboarding. Apparently snowboarders are supposed to be so laid-back that they don’t care about wearing gear that could up their game and make them more competitive. It’s more important to be “cool” than competitive apparently.
The thing that really bugs me about this is really an issue I have with the typical snowboarders’ attitudes. (Sidenote: I know many snowboarders, and none actually have this attitude). They claim to be so anti-authority and anti-establishment, but really they’re not. They just want it to be their establishment. They wear baggy pants, so don’t go against the anti-establishment and wear slightly slimmer pants.
The second story that I found interesting last week related to this is that of Japanese Olympic halfpipe snowboarder, Kazuhiro Kokubo. In wearing his team-issued suit for the opening ceremonies, Kokubo decided to obey the snowboarder establishment and wear his suit like a snowboarder. His pants were baggy, his tie loose, shirt untucked and unbuttoned, he wore sunglasses at night, and sported nose piercings and dreadlocks. Due to this, Japan punished him by not allowing him and his coaches to attend the opening ceremonies. They also cancelled viewing parties for him across the country. Now, this is really not all that surprising, it’s pretty much Japanese culture of conformity. It just seems like maybe they should be more focused on the fact that they were able to put a snowboarder in a position to be humiliated by Shaun White. Not many other countries had that opportunity. Besides if he had shown up in acceptable Japanese attire, Nate Holland would have berated him and stolen his lunch money.
I think these two issues illustrate what will be really interesting to watch in snowboarding over the next few years, other than what Shaun White can do next. As the sport becomes more and more popular and competitive, especially as an Olympic event, more countries will be attracted to the event and the culture will start to change. Snowboarders will have to adjust to having his competitors be very different from himself. It will no longer be the community sport it is now, where competitors encourage each other and learn each other’s tricks. The women’s halfpipe finals included two Chinese competitors who have trained like the Chinese gymnasts train. I guarantee you they’re not out shredding the gnar with the American snowboarders. So maybe boarders like Nate Holland should more concerned with legitimate threats to the integrity of his sport other than supposed emo snowboarders.
Or maybe he should just focus on snowboarding.
If you have something interesting you’d like to share about the Olympics – a unique take on one of the events, a funny anecdote about watching with your boyfriend, whatever – feel free to write it up and send it our way. You’re going to see several posts from us over the next two weeks, and we’d love to hear from you too. So if you feel so inclined, write something up and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
23 Feb 2010 CJS Staff