CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, B.C. -- Proving yet again that it is, pound for pound, the most entertaining sport at these Games, the snowboardcross venue was transformed yesterday into a Northwestern version of "Wallace and Gromit in the Wrong Trousers."
It couldn't have happened without
After paying an unsolicited compliment to the outfits of the surprisingly strong contingent of French riders -- "I like their style: the jockey tops, the baggier pants" -- Holland headed for the chairlift, yelling over his shoulder, "You guys should ask the Canadians why they're wearing such tight pants."
Now that he mentioned it, the host country's riders
It was not by accident that Team Canada's trou are less baggy than those of their rivals. It's all in keeping with Canada's thrust, so to speak, to improve its medal count in these Games.
"If you have any experience in wind tunnels," noted Canadian rider
The tighter the garment, the faster the ride. But the price to be paid for showing up in a speed suit, as Neilson recalled one fellow did in the early days of snowboard cross, can be high. "You'd just probably get gurned till the end of your career," he allowed. (Asked to define "gurn," Neilson said it meant to "rib" or "bug.")
This tension has existed nearly as long as the sport itself. Neilson recalled the devastatingly effective ridicule meted out in the '90s by the legendary Austrian boarder
That ideal, some boardercrossers fear, is once again under attack. With few rules in place, they are forced to self self-police each other, with some taking a more active role in enforcement than others.
Of course, as long as Holland was going around channeling the late fashion critic
But it wasn't clear, on the eve of the finals, who was in whose head. Neilson admitted that, after a withering look from Holland yesterday, the Canadian had actually changed into a roomier pair.
"I looked at his pants," recalled Holland, "and he looks at me and five minutes later says, 'man, I'm sorry, I'm changing, these are ridiculous.' He knows where the soul of the sport should stay."
It will take today's competition, it seems, to determine who wears the pants in this relationship.