Which Winter Olympics sports activities can be higher in the event that they had been performed in the dead of night? The query has roiled humanity for millennia. For so long as athletes have strapped skis, skates, or curling footwear to their ft, spectators have questioned whether or not the resultant competitors may not be extra enjoyable to look at if it had been carried out in pitch-black circumstances. However nobody has ever had the heart to try to reply this crucial query—till now.
As a public service, I’ve painstakingly analyzed all 15 of the 2022 Winter Olympics disciplines to find out which ones can be improved and which ones can be ruined in the event that they had been to be performed with the lights out. I plan to ahead the outcomes of my analysis to the Worldwide Olympic Committee, which I count on will take steps to implement these ideas by the point of Milano Cortina 2026. For now, although, I’m giving Slate readers a preview of my conclusions.
A short be aware earlier than I start: It’s true that there are lots of Olympic occasions which might be held open air within the nighttime. Competing at evening just isn’t, nevertheless, the identical factor as competing in the dead of night. The nighttime occasions use lights to light up the programs in an try to simulate daytime in the course of the nighttime. This act of hubris goes in opposition to nature. I need to know which Olympic sports activities can be higher with the lights completely off, with exceptions made for “enjoyable” lighting options like spotlights and Christmas lights and lasers. Let’s cease being afraid of the darkish, Olympians!
There’s no manner round it: Alpine snowboarding can be very, very harmful in the dead of night. The one manner for plenty of skiers to not harm themselves or die whereas finishing their runs in the dead of night can be for them to go very, very slowly, navigating by the sunshine of the moon and maybe with the help of the little miners’ headlamps that we’d allow them to put on. This swap from quick to very gradual would essentially change the character of the self-discipline, making it extra like an orienteering competitors than a race. In consequence, alpine snowboarding would go from being one of the crucial fashionable Winter Olympic sports activities to one of many least fashionable sports activities. Verdict: Maintain the lights on.
Biathlon, in any other case referred to as the unique “mash-up,” combines goal capturing and cross-country snowboarding in a single very unusual and unpopular bundle. Flip the lights off, although, and biathlon may plausibly turn into a viral sensation. The trick can be to interchange the static targets with exploding targets that may shoot fireworks within the sample of the athlete’s nationwide flag upon being struck—form of like a kind of gender reveal events the place they detonate tannerite within the woods to announce that it’s a boy. What may go flawed? Verdict: Flip the lights off.
Bobsled would clearly be higher in the dead of night. Beautify the course with futuristic Tron-style lighting strips, paint the sleds in glow-in-the-dark colours, drop a headlight within the nostril of the sled, blast some Daft Punk via the sector’s audio system, and also you’re good to go. What the sleds would possibly lose in velocity they’d achieve in cyberpunk aesthetic. Verdict: Flip the lights off.
It’s already arduous sufficient to get individuals to look at cross-country snowboarding, which is a disgrace, as a result of it’s really very enjoyable and good. Whereas turning off the lights and giving the athletes little miners’ headlamps wouldn’t actually rework the game very a lot—Nordic skiers can huff and puff their manner up and down delicate inclines simply as effectively in the dead of night as they’ll within the daylight—seeing nothing however a bunch of gasping blips on their TV screens would most likely induce the common Olympics viewer to vary the channel even sooner than they already do. Verdict: Maintain the lights on, in order that extra individuals can really uncover how enjoyable and funky this sport actually is.
If turning the lights off and flashing a bunch of neon squiggles in all places can flip bowling into cosmic bowling, then it might probably absolutely do the identical factor for curling, a sport that may unequivocally rule in the dead of night. In cosmic curling, the home can be rendered in fluorescent colours, and curlers would throw stones that glowed in the dead of night and beeped as they scooted down the sheet, like a lovable robotic in some lesser Star Wars film. These minor modifications would convey new audiences to the game, and would assist athletes make more cash within the low season by opening “cosmic curling” facilities and siphoning away a few of that candy, candy, children’ celebration cash from Massive Bowling. Verdict: Flip the lights off.
Determine skating could possibly be performed in the dead of night, however it will form of damage the game’s whole judging system. As a substitute of watching and empirically evaluating a skater’s routines, judges must depend on the skaters to shout out the names of the jumps and spins they accomplished, in addition to once they botched their landings. On the one hand, this may get us to the sextuple axel manner, manner faster than anybody ever anticipated. However, we additionally wouldn’t be capable of see the skaters’ costumes. Verdict: Maintain the lights on.
I suppose you could possibly do freestyle snowboarding in the dead of night if the assorted options on the slope had been illuminated, and in addition if the inevitable medevac helicopters had been outfitted with spotlights that made it simpler for them to find the injured rivals and whisk them away to the closest hospital. Verdict: Maintain the lights on.
Ice hockey may and needs to be performed in the dead of night, so long as the occasions had been moved open air in homage to the numerous low-light video games that’ve been performed on neighborhood rinks everywhere in the world. We’d permit the gamers to make use of automobile headlights to light up the ice, however we might additionally penalize gamers if their moms began honking the automobile horns as a result of it was getting late and so they wanted to get house and put dinner on already. Verdict: Flip the lights off.
Luge can be extraordinarily harmful in the dead of night. So let’s compromise a little bit and string Christmas lights on both aspect of the monitor, and let’s prolong the premise by having a course official dressed as a Christmas elf start every athlete’s run by kicking them down the monitor, like that one scene in A Christmas Story. Would these modifications make luge higher or extra pleasing? No, however it will be a pleasant little present of solidarity with these of us who haven’t but taken our Christmas bushes down although it’s February. Verdict: Toss-up.
I confess to not having watched that a lot Nordic mixed in my life, but when turning the lights off improved the biathlon, maybe it will additionally enhance this different Olympic double-stuff? Or, you understand, perhaps we may simply skip this sport solely and exchange it with some form of enjoyable laser gentle present and/or musical efficiency from an area Pink Floyd cowl band? Verdict: Flip the lights off.
With out main modifications, short-track velocity skating performed in the dead of night can be a literal massacre. With a purpose to keep away from pointless lack of life, the athletes would both should considerably boring their skate blades (boring!), costume in cumbersome protecting gear like hockey gamers (redundant!), or put on light-up helmets that may make them seem like little beacons zooming round on the ice. It’s arduous to see how anybody would assume that any of those modifications would enhance short-track, except you’re a beacon man, and I feel we are able to all agree that we’ve heard nearly sufficient from you, Beacon Man. Verdict: Maintain the lights on.
Skeleton may plausibly be extra enjoyable in the dead of night if and provided that the athletes had been made to put on glow-in-the-dark “skeleton” costumes, of the kind that you just purchase at Halloween Journey at 4 p.m. on October 31, as a result of by that time they’re bought out of all the nice costumes. But when they wore these costumes on the Olympics, and in addition constructed out the spooky environment by renting a smoke machine and enjoying “Monster Mash” again and again, then it’d really feel like a selection fairly than like settling—an on-the-nose selection, however a selection however. Verdict: Toss-up.
Though I hate to say it, I really feel like ski leaping simply isn’t that attention-grabbing to look at because it at the moment stands—or, no less than, not as attention-grabbing accurately, provided that it includes athletes actually flying via the air like bats out of hell. So why not lean into the self-discipline’s inherent theatrics and connect little flares to the athlete’s skis? Have the ski leap space go pitch black apart from a single highlight monitoring skiers as they velocity down the ramp. Then, as soon as they’re airborne, kill the highlight so that every one you see is the flares arcing via the sky. Make these modifications and ski leaping would shortly turn into the primary Olympic sport to ever win an Academy Award for manufacturing design. Verdict: Flip the lights off.
Snowboarding could possibly be performed in the dead of night underneath two circumstances: First, the athletes must be allowed to carry up their telephones whereas competing. Second, you’d have to permit the athletes to be stoned sufficient in order that they wouldn’t actually care what time of day it was. You already know, I really feel like loads of snowboarders are already accustomed to performing underneath each of those circumstances. Verdict: Toss-up.
Pace skating is already nice, nevertheless it would possibly even be extra nice if, as a substitute of getting overhead lights illuminate the monitor, the monitor itself had been illuminated from under. It could form of be just like the athletes had been skating atop a large ring gentle. Sure, this may create loads of glare; sure, the skaters would squint and crash loads; sure, the sunshine would get so heat that it will soften the ice and damage your entire factor; sure, this wouldn’t even rely as skating in the dead of night. Really, by no means thoughts, it is a horrible thought. Verdict: Maintain the lights on.