Let me get this out of the way: Snowboarding scares the living crap out of me. I have never done it. I have never been around it. I have never strapped on a board or a helmet. This leads to two things: I have the utmost respect for snowboarders, and I rely on the expertise of the commentators to know what is going on when I do watch it. This strikes me as a perfectly fine arrangement and is almost surely true for the vast majority of humanity; we all understand a few sports well and, on the rest, we go along for the ride.
Which leads us to Thursday night, when I, like you, was watching the snowboarding halfpipe competition in the Beijing Olympic Games. I tuned in about halfway through the second runs (snowboarders in the Olympics get three). Japanese rider Ayumu Hirano began his run and color commentator Todd Richards began doing his job: Explaining the sport to me and why the run Hirano threw down was so impressive. To summarize, he said that Hirano did a triple cork, the first time it had been landed in Olympic history, and a bunch of other really hard tricks (I agree, they looked super hard!), and he predicted that Hirano would get a score of about 98 and clearly take the lead for gold. Richards sure seemed to know what he was talking about, and he’s got the resúmé to back it up.
Then the score came in. The judges gave Hirano a 91.75. And Richards, for lack of a better way to put it, lost his mind. (You can watch it all at this link.)
Though I am not a snowboarder, I am a journalist and I immediately did what I do best: Write everything down! With a little help from Kelsey McKinney, here are some of the best burns from several truly epic, tell-the-judges-where-they-can-shove-it moments of live TV.
“Is there a mistake? How did that–? Wait a minute. There is no way!”
“As far as I’m concerned, the judges just grenaded their credibility.”
“Try to tell me where you [are] deducting from this run.”
“It’s unbelievable that this is even happening.”
“It’s a travesty.”
“I am irate.”
“What is the point of doing the triple cork?!?”
“Someone call the authorities. There’s been a robbery.”
And if you were wondering if, perhaps, this was just a hot mic situation, Richards took to Twitter to erase any doubts.
When Hirano did his final run, and the judges gave him a gold-medal-winning 96, Richards, in that one moment, spoke for all of us watching. He said, simply: “Justice.”