A Whack Start For A Goofy Sport

February 23, 1998

In honor of the single worst debut by a sport in Olympic
history, please memorize the following snowboarding terms and
have them tattooed somewhere extremely rad.

Animal. 1) Muppet character who was official mascot of the U.S.
snowboarding team. 2) Direct relative of many members of the
U.S. snowboarding team.

Goofy. 1) Riding a snowboard with your right foot forward. 2)
Canadian giant slalom snowboard racer Ross Rebagliati, who a)
won snowboarding's first gold medal; b) lost it after testing
positive for marijuana; c) claimed he had only inhaled the
secondhand smoke of his snowboarding friends; d) got the medal
back on appeal; and then e) said, "I'm not changing my
friends.... I might have to wear a gas mask from now on, but,
whatever." Well, as long as he's sorry.

Half-pipe. 1) The two-walled snow structure in which
snowboarders ride. 2) Essential measurement at Canadian
snowboarders' parties.

Half-assed. What the Olympic competition was, considering a) the
best snowboarder in the world, Norway's Terje Haakonsen, skipped
the Games and went surfing at Laguna Beach, Calif.; and b) it
was run by skiing officials, not snowboarding officials, which
is like having Augusta National Golf Club run a Martin Luther
King Day parade.

Drop-in. 1) The start of a half-pipe ride. 2) What Japanese
police did to Rebagliati at his hotel room, looking for
marijuana. They then interrogated him for more than six hours
before letting him go. "Just a procedural thing," Rebagliati
said afterward.

Five to seven years. Procedural thing for conviction of
possession of marijuana in Japan.

Suck. 1) Not riding your snowboard well, as in this quote from
American half-pipe bronze medalist Shannon Dunn: "The Japanese
are cool. You can suck, and they'll still yell for you." 2) The
commentary of CBS snowboarding expert Jim (the Ripper) Rippey,
who misused the adjective good 1,287 times in two broadcasts and
had this analysis during American Chris Klug's giant slalom run:
"Yeah, Chris! C'mon, buddy!"

Whack. Very bad, as in the way the American snowboarders felt
about their closetful of U.S. Olympic team garments: polyester
slacks, Junior League pumps and conservative blazers that they
wouldn't wear to a fire. "It's whack," said one, "but it's free!"

Rivalry. A word apparently not in the vocabulary of 19-year-old
American half-pipe bronze medalist Ross Powers, who was asked
who his chief opponents were. "Uh, I really don't have a
riralry, rivralry--I mean a ribal...aw, f---." To which teammate
Todd Richards, sitting next to him, said, "Well put."

The Bomb. 1) Exceptionally good. 2) What the lobby of the Shiga
Kogen Prince Hotel in Yamanouchi Town appeared to have been hit
with after a little snowboarders' soiree, resulting in Austrian
boarder Martin Freinademetz's being kicked out of the
competition. "We had a party, we had fun," he said. "Something
got broken." Well put.

Tunes. 1) Last-minute adjustments to snowboards. 2) Music chosen
by Olympic riders for the half-pipe competition, including
selections by Hallucinogen and Bob Marley (most of which
mentioned "ganja"), Biscuits for Smut by Helmet, and a lot of
others that had the word Powers used in his press conference.

Whistler, British Columbia. 1) Hometown of Rebagliati. 2) Cause
of Rebagliati's problems, according to a Canadian Olympic
official, who said the snowboarder's positive test was a
by-product of living in Whistler, where "marijuana is four times
more potent" than in other areas and "most of the young people
use it."

Outie. To depart, as in this exchange: Olympic snowboarder A,
"I'm outie, dude." Olympic snowboarder B, "Where you goin',
dude?" Olympic snowboarder A, "Whistler, dude!"

Big air. 1) To gain great height on a half-pipe trick. 2) Very
bad decision, as in "Juan Antonio Samaranch made very big air
letting snowboarding into the Olympics this soon."

Kanbayashi. The mountain park about 25 miles outside Nagano,
home to not only the Olympic snowboarders but also the famous
wild monkeys that bathe in the natural hot springs there. They
really were amazing--howling at the top of their lungs, smelling
a little funny and doing rude things in public. The monkeys were
interesting, too.

B/W PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [Rick Reilly]

"We had a party, we had fun," said one Austrian snowboarder.
"Something "got broken."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)