Extreme sports are particularly attractive for the Olympics because they have proven ratings success with ESPN’s X Games, which in 2012 drew in 35.4 million viewers. In contrast, ratings for the Winter Olympics have struggled. While the 2006 Turin Games were beat in the U.S. ratings by American Idol, in 2010, snowboarder Shaun White helped make the Vancouver Games the highest rated Winter Olympics yet, with 30.1 million viewers on the night he took home gold in the halfpipe. These extreme sports draw in ratings because they can be enjoyed without having to know much about the sport. “The audience can appreciate the risks,” Forsyth said. “You don’t have to have a lot of technical knowledge to appreciate these sports.” Meaning, people can watch snowboarders jump on a metal rail and flip three times, or a skier jump out of a halfpipe and flip while in a split, and just be entertained. “Skiing is a visually spectacular sport,” said Mike Douglass, the “godfather of freesking,”a subset of skiers who ride more like snowboarders with tricks, flips, spins, etc off of halfpipes and down slopes. “It’s a dreamer’s type"...
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