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Amazing Rollerski Race Video
By:  Craig Storey   (2004/12/10)

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Last week about 11.79 million viewers in North Americans sat down and watched a roller ski race on TV during prime time! Cross-country skiing probably had it's largest North American television audience ever, and I'll bet most skiers didn't even watch.

Did you see it? I know I missed it.

Usually, when cross-country ski races are on TV, it is an occasion to have the VCR set and gather with a group of ski friends and generally get excited that there is finally something worth watching! After all, televised ski races are very rare. CBC has probably aired one or two ski xc races per season since Becky Scott won her medal at the Olympics. That's a lot more than they were showing in the four years leading up to that medal.

But this time there was no announcement, and I'm sure the race was largely missed by the main skiing audience. You see the roller ski race was a race within a race. It was a challenge event during an episode of CBS's series "The Amazing Race 6". The Amazing Race is a reality TV show in which teams travel all over the world competing head-to-head and against the clock to be the first to arrive at the mystery destination in order to win cash prizes and fame. Teams of two are made up mainly of neurotic body builders, not yet married couples soon to be divorced or models, with the occasional regular looking person just to add the "reality" element. The show mainly focuses on the non-stop bickering between teammates, rather than the scenery of the country or the competition.

In this episode the teams were in Norway during the summer and competed in "traditional" games. Teams were given a choice between roller skiing 1.75 miles (2.8km or the distance from P8 to P9) on a mainly gradual downhill course or Viking games: throw an axe into a stump, hit a target with and arrow and knock down some blocks. As Norway is a cross-country ski crazy nation, a roller ski race was as obvious a choice as playing road hockey in Canada.

Most teams were eager to roller ski. Maybe too eager? I've got to say it was at least entertaining. It just reminded me that I take for granted how easy skiing is. Watch for yourself...


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