Bob Costas compares slopestyle to Johnny Knoxville and ‘Jackass’ stunts

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Bob Costas on the ‘Today’ show; photo is a screen grab from the video

Johnny Knoxville is the screen character for the old MTV reality series—and for subsequent movies—called "Jackass" in which juvenile adults do crude and dangerous stunts.

So what was Bob Costas doing comparing slopestyle to Johnny Knoxville and "Jackass," other than stirring up controversy and publicity?

Costas, the host for NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, didn't endear himself to snowboarders and freestyle skiers on the "Today" show Monday when he made comments that seemed to suggest slopestyle is akin to crude and dangerous stunts.

In reality, slopestyle consists of snowboarders and freestyle skiers descending on a course of rails and jumps as they combine big air with technical tricks. The sport is made up of athletes who train rigorously to perfect their tricks. A video at the bottom gives a great example of the sport, showing snowboard slopestyle Olympic favorite Mark McMorris of Canada winning a Dew Tour event in December.

And here is the interview with Matt Lauer, the inflammatory part beginning around the 1:17 mark:

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In case you want to skip the video, here is a transcript of the exchange:

Lauer: "We are going to see new events, some new sports we haven't seen in Olympic competition before: slopestyle, something that you've done a lot as a kid, I know."

Costas: "No, question. I think the president of the IOC should be Johnny Knoxville because basically this stuff is just 'Jackass' stuff that they invented and called Olympic sports."

johnny knoxville and wikimedia commons
Johnny Knoxville; photo from Wikimedia Commons

Lauer: "You mean that in the best possible way, though."

Costas: "I mean it in the kindest possible sense, yes."

Lauer: "We could see Shaun White, though, take center stage in slopestyle."

Costas: "We could very well. And God knows if there's anyone who knows slopestyle it's me.”

Lauer: "And that's the last you're going to say about it.”

Costas: "Until February 5th."

Obviously Costas was just trying to be funny but did expose his ignorance of the sport. Commenters reacted as you'd imagine. Among the comments from Freeskier:

"It just shows Costas’ lack of understanding of how much hard work it takes to compete at an Olympic level in this sport. Bob Costas should apologize—period."

"Bob Costas is a clown! When did he become the judge on what’s a sport. The man doesn’t look like he could play badminton."

"While Costas may be talking in jest, and acknowledging his lack of understanding of the sport, I still think it was a bit of a low blow from the Bob Man."

To be fair, we must say that Costas was spot-on when he said we should have lower expectations for American downhill skier Lindsey Vonn, who has since announced she was dropping out of the Olympics to have knee surgery.

Now, for Bob Costas’ sake, and for those unfamiliar with slopestyle, here is a taste of what the sport is all about:

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