The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

NBC skiing analyst cites female Olympic skiers’ makeup

The intent of the report from NBC skiing analyst Steve Porino during today’s women’s downhill competition was noble. He stood out on the mountain to convey to NBC viewers just how steep and treacherous is the course for this exciting competition. With the help of some nifty graphics from NBC, Porino spoke of the course’s so-called “Forest Drop,” a part of the mountain that the skiers enter at 60 mph. It has a 70 percent grade, twice the pitch of “your roof,” Porino said. In the space of nine seconds, he continued, these extraordinary female athletes descend the height of the Washington Monument, all while making turns. Altogether, they barrel ahead at three G forces, which is like “having an offensive lineman on your back.”

Now it was time for the little segment’s kicker, which Porino handled like this: “All of that while in a Lycra suit, maybe a little bit of makeup — now that is grace under pressure.”

Perhaps, but it’s not good broadcasting under any circumstances. Though Porino did a great job of explaining the physics of the downhill run, why the merely tangential mention of makeup? Isn’t it cosmetic products that define these incredibly talented women, anyhow?

Twitter was merciless toward Porino’s alpine stereotyping: