LILLEHAMMER, Norway — The Winter Olympics are supposed to be fun but, of course, things don't always work out exactly as planned. Lots can happen to take some of the fun out of Olympic sports.
In mogul skiing, though, they work hard to keep the fun alive. And that doesn't mean just the spectators, although they certainly do their part. It starts with the athletes and organizers.
And that's not surprising, considering the roots of the sport.
Anyone who has ever skied down a mountainside has encountered moguls. They are snow bumps carved into the steeper slopes by skiers turning frequently to keep their speed in check. A mogul slope looks like a hillside with goosebumps.
Moguls are not easy to ski, but skiers who have mastered the technique usually seek them out. Good mogul skiers ski them fast, bouncing from bump to bump, and also seek out the natural jumps that occur on most mogul hills. And good jumpers like to add another element, aerial tricks.
Those who can do it say it's fun. And usually on a ski slope, if someone is hotdogging down a mogul hill, there are other skiers watching. The mogul skier is having fun doing it, and the watching skiers are having fun watching.
So, of this, they made a competitive sport. And the only real difference is that the moguls are not naturally carved.
The fun remains. The other day at the mogul hill, a recording of a space-shot countdown led into the start of the competition, during which each run was signaled by a rooster crow. Rock, country or country-rock music blared while the skiers, lower legs looking like zigzag sewing machine needles, were bouncing down the slope and off the jumps. The fans bopped to the music, and during lulls, sometimes made their own. A kazoo contingent made itself known.
Describing the sport, American skier Ann Battelle said: "Take the hill out behind your house, that steep one, then add some Volkswagen Bugs. Cover the Bugs with snow, strap some skis on your feet and try to get down as fast as you can. Then, to complicate things, put a couple more Bugs on top of the other Bugs and point your skis off them."
Sound like fun? Well, it is.
Just to make sure that nobody had \o7 too \f7 good a time, though, there were people at the gate collecting bottles of liquor from the spectators and issuing claim checks, to be redeemed on the way out.
Everyone had a good time, anyway.