an open letter to the BBC, about the snowboarding commentary

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Dear BBC,

Apparently you’ve had around 300 complaints about the snowboard commentary from Sochi over the weekend.

I would like not to add my voice to that list. In fact, I would like to say that it was the best commentary I’ve heard for a very long time.

If the point of commentary is to inform and add colour to a sporting event, so that the viewer understands what is happening, from the rules to interpreting a run that is scored in a way that isn’t about who comes in fastest/longest/highest, then they achieved fabulously. The metaphors were gloriously inventive and absolutely illuminating, to the extent that even the great Test Match Special Team, doyens of wild sporting riffs, should take a long hard look at their competition.

I understand snowboarding better than ever before, both the rules and the culture, and am ever more impressed at the way that the competitors compete in the best spirit possible and at the joy and enthusiasm for style and spirit, and personal satisfaction as much as for ‘coming first’ – especially in the women’s competition in the morning.

It was a delight to have Aimee Fuller in the commentary box, cheering on all of her peers, regardless of their nationality. I never for one moment thought that she or the commentators were cheering falls, so much as gasping and emotionally riding along with the boarders. Yes it was exciting – yes, maybe they were over-excited in that final run when they realised that Jenny Jones was going to get a medal. Frankly, I’d rather that than the alternative.

I’ve really enjoyed all the coverage from Sochi – and I’ve enjoyed the other commentators on slopestyle and snowboard in the last couple of days. But none so much as on Sunday morning.

Yours, terribly fondly.


(p.s. I’m emailing this to you as well)


  1. “I never for one moment thought that she or the commentators were cheering falls”. If you didn’t then you were not listening!

  2. Couldn’t agree more, I thought it was great commentary from people who we’re passionate about the sport they were there to commentate on 🙂

  3. Agreed. I didn’t feel like they were cheering failures. Yes, they mentioned that those in medal positions would stay there, due to the failure, but that was just pointing out facts. With each fall, they were genuinely concerned about the boarder that had fallen. With each good run, they were genuinely impressed with the high scores, even if that meant pushing Jenny Jones down a place.

    The enthusiasm was infectious, to the point where even if you didn’t care about slopestyle before, it was hard not to be by the end.

    I found Aimee to be a particular high point, too. It was nice getting her insider view of it all. Having trained, practised and hung out with all of the women competing. They were her friends. She wanted them all to do well, but still managed to be informative when it came to pointing out particular tricks, etc.

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