The Summer Olympics are fairly easy to comprehend for the average couch tuber: people running, hoisting, swimming in synch — all fairly quotidian activities. The Winter Games, however, are awash in confusing rules and inexplicable terminology. To help groggy viewers better understand what exactly is taking place in Vancouver, the Phoenix has taken a closer look at the Winter Games' most confounding sport: freestyle skiing.
SPREAD EAGLE Perhaps the game's oldest move, this leg-spreading trick made its greatest impact just prior to the 1980 Games, when Nelson Rockefeller made a short-sighted fatal attempt to perfect it with his secretary.
360 Austrian skiing sensation Falco perfected this "maneuv," until he abandoned skiing altogether in the late '70s. Then, in a thinly veiled attack on his old sport, he recorded the anti-360 manifesto "Der Kommissar," which was later covered by After the Fire to reveal its true meaning: "Don't Turn Around."
HALF CAB MUTE GRAB One of the more politically incorrect maneuvers, this odd, almost literally interpreted and complex move is a little too difficult to describe. Needless to say, it is a wintry ballet incorporating an Eastern European taxi driver, a kidnapping, and a pirated DVD copy of the Jodie Foster movie Nell.
BACK-SCRATCHER Also known as the "Quid Pro Quo," skiers attempting this difficult move must jump off the platform, thrust hands into their wallets, take out any number of US Andrew Jacksons, and place them, artfully, into the pockets of the judges.
DAFFY To complete this bizarre maneuver, a skier must convince a rival to drop, from great heights, an anvil onto his or her head. Then the skier's head must retain the shape of the anvil until he or she bounces down the length of the mogul run, all the while somersaulting and screaming "whoo-hoo, whoo-hoo."
COSSACK This terrifying jump evolved rather accidentally as invading Kazakhs convinced entire villages of Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Jews in Central Asia to "jump" out of their windows.
SWITCH CORKED 720 Originally pioneered by Dominican baseball superstar Sammy Sosa, who encouraged competitors to secretly stuff cork padding inside one's skis.
FLAIR IN THE PIPE Ah, this spirited jump is indeed controversial, in that anyone who has ever attempted it has been disqualified, thanks to the International Olympic Committee's stringent anti-drug policies.
LINCOLN LOOP One might think that this move is in some way attributed to our skillful 16th president, the ski-loving Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the balcony-jumping, leg-breaking trick was named for Chad Lincoln, an avid 20th century theater-goer who, in an unbelievable coincidence — and while watching a performance of Our American Cousin — was also assassinated.
ZUDNICK Leading with one's left toe, jumping, spinning, and landing on one's right index, it was named for an industrial arts/wood-shop teacher in New Mexico who accidentally sliced off three of his own fingers.
540 TAIL GRAB First recorded by the US Navy's Tailhook Ski Team in Nevada, the mission here is for anyone in the competing skier's entourage to cop as many feels as possible before the skier makes it to the bottom of the course.