Exclusive: The world’s best freestyle skiers and snowboarders are in shock after learning that judges have been using a hidden category to decide the medallists at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Anonymous sources have revealed that judges have been been rating competitors according to how many social media followers they each have, in addition to Progression, Amplitude, Variety, Execution and Difficulty, in events such as Ski and Snowboard Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe.
“Judges have been scoring competitors according to their popularity on social media,” revealed a spokesperson for judges, on condition of strict anonymity.
“After tallying their scores for the five standard categories, judges then add the number of followers each athlete has on the major social media platforms, in order to create the final score, which then determines the medal winners.”
The judge explained that the secret category was added in Beijing for many reasons, the most salient being that freestyle skiing and snowboarding are sustained by social media.
“Freestyle events like Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe are all devoted to image – just like social media itself. Thus, adding social media presence to the judging criteria was a natural progression.”
Judges reportedly search for athlete profiles on Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat and, to a lesser extent Facebook, before the competition. As the event is being held in China, greater emphasis is being placed on an athlete’s presence on Tik Tok, and Chinese social media site Weibo.
“Do you think Eileen Gu won gold based on her jumps alone?” suggested the judge in hushed tones.
Gu has about 2 million followers on Weibo, and 147,000 plus on Tik Tok, which is Chinese owned and known as Douyin.
Judges also confessed that they welcomed the addition of the new category, which has stunned those within the sports.
“It gives us a way to distinguish between each run,” they admitted.
“Let’s face it, every athlete is basically doing the same trick, one after the other, so this way we can more objectively score the athletes. Assessing a snowboarder’s Cork 720 Mute against another’s is actually quite complicated.”
Judges initially attempted to sneak in a new category in the women’s events. Points were to be deducted if the athlete didn’t have two strands of hair cascading down her face from under her helmet.
“This might be, maybe, possibly, potentially… why Tess Coady only won bronze in Slopestyle. Maybe,” suggested a judge.
“But virtually every woman was doing it, so it didn’t help us to differentiate. Thus, the natural solution was to use social media popularity, which is more objective – you either have 700,000 Instagram followers or you don’t.”
Athletes and team officials are horrified at the subterfuge of event organisers, and have taken to social media to express their anger and demand answers from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Federation internationale de ski (FIS) and Beijing 2022 organisers.
The governing bodies were reluctant to comment, but did say that if they had told athletes and officials of the new category prior to the games, athletes would have simply ‘bought’ more followers for their respective accounts.
Judges decided to take the risk of revealing this highly-classified information in order to assist young people aiming for gold at future wintersports competitions.
“Kids, get out the camera,” they declared.
“Get out the GoPro and the selfie stick, and film everything.”
“Film yourself at the halfpipe, on the jumps, at the park. Film yourself on the way to and from the park, film up and down the chairlift and to and from the slopes. Post about your favourite outfits, music, food, shoes, TV series – everything, even film your dog. Then like, poke, share, retweet, comment and subscribe like crazy”
“Because if you don’t, you’ll never win freestyle gold.”