A reality TV show about ski jumping on Channel 4 is quickly becoming the most controversial show of the year. The Jump – a show where celebrities (some of whom you will have heard of) learn a number of winter sports including Bobsleigh, Ski Slalom, Snowboard Slalom, Skeleton and, of course, the Ski Jump - has recently gained a lot of tabloid column inches because of the seemingly ever growing list of injuries sustained by those taking part.
It’s hard to recall a TV show gaining this much controversy since film star Shilpa Shetty was the victim of what appeared to be racial abuse in the Celebrity Big Brother house back in 2007.
"Skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, they’re dangerous..."
Now it it’s third series, The Jump has been called “TV’s most dangerous show" by the Daily Mail, “too dangerous" by The Sun, and The Mirror has asked is the entire project is “doomed". Yes, the tabloids have all taken a break from running ‘upskirt pics’ of one of Little Mix and asking Jo, 19 from Kent her opinion on the junior doctors strike, to criticise the winter sports reality show because contestants keep getting injured.
This morning, it was reported that identikit Made In Chelsea human-guff Mark-Francis Vandelli has left the show after fracturing his ankle while taking part in the Snow Cross challenge on The Jump. Vandelli becomes the fourth celebrity to pull out of the show since it first aired on 31st January. Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington was hospitalised after a crash, actress Tina Hobley dislocated her elbow in practice, and Britain’s most successful gymnast Beth Tweddle required surgery to fuse a fractured vertebrae in her neck, also following a crash in practice.
Furthermore, former Eastenders actor and leading Ham Hock impersonator Sid Owen, along with one-time British Olympic hero Linford Christie have also suffered muscle injuries in the show, but both hope to continue competing.
So, is The Jump too dangerous? Should it be pulled?
We think not. As anybody who’s taken part in any winter sport will attest, there is always an element of danger, always a risk, but that - in part at least – is why we do them. For the exhilaration that overcoming that fear, that danger.
Ski industry Expert Chris Moran of All Conditions Media, agrees. “Skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, they’re dangerous. That’s part of the appeal," said Moran, adding: “All sport has risk. Compare the number of people in five-a-side who got injured last weekend playing in teams across the UK. Would anyone think of banning football? No of course not."
The sports shown on The Jump have an undeniable element of danger to them, but to call them “too dangerous" is, at best, sensationalistic. Granted, they is certainly greater risk of injury ski jumping than there is completing your tax return, but putting a year's receipts in date order hardly makes for good TV, does it? The exhilaration felt from the danger – or surviving the danger – is what makes these sports so appealing. It’s why we get on roller coasters. Why we skydive. Why we book track days in fast cars.
Furthermore, statistics back up the assertion that skiing and snowboarding are far from the most dangerous sports around. A 2012 study carried out on behalf of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons suggests that cycling, football (soccer) and swimming (among many others) are individually far more dangerous than skiing, snowboarding, and related winter sports combined
Every precaution is made by the producers of The Jump to ensure that the show is as safe as possible. Training of the competitors throughout the show is overseen by Warren Smith. Based in Verbier, Switzerland, Smith is one of the world’s leading ski instructors with years of experience training every level of skier, from first times learning the basics through to celebrities like Lawrence Dallaglio, to top level professional skiers.
More over, the courses used on The Jump are built to the highest industry standards. Stu Brass and Spencer Claridge of Soulsports, the experts who manage the British Ski and Snowboard Championships safely ever year, act as consultants to the show.
As such, to say that the competitors aren’t prepared, or aren’t in safe hands is clearly ridiculous.
As Channel 4 explain: “The Jump is now in its third series and since launch 46 celebrities have taken part successfully. Though it is a new course the events have been designed to be no more difficult than in previous years and all contributors have undertaken a rigorous training programme to prepare them for the show."
They are taking the injuries seriously however, adding: "In light of the number of injuries this year [we have] asked the producers to review safety procedures again to further reduce the prospect of accidents."
The controversy surrounding The Jump appears to be little more than a storm in a tabloid tea cup. As ever, today's moral outrage will be long forgotten by tomorrow, when the red tops will turn their attention back to demonising foreign sounding people, running stories about things Justin Bieber's PR has said on Twitter, and printing pictures of topless young women under the word "SCORCHER!". Stay classy, tabloids.