TV analyst defends comment on Olympic Chinese skiers 'very hard to tell who's who'

An Australian Olympics commentator has had to defend herself against accusations of racism after concluding her analysis of a Chinese skier’s run by saying, “very Chinese. They all look the same. Very hard to tell who’s who.”

The commentator is five-time Olympian Jacqui Cooper. She was immediately questioned and criticized for the comment, especially by those who heard it out of context.

But Cooper clarified that she was not talking about the skiers’ appearances being similar. She was making a genuine point about Yan Ting’s aerial routine, and its similarity to that of other Chinese freestyle skiers:

Cooper’s full comment was as follows: “Double-twisting double summersault. Not a massive degree of difficulty. Very nicely done, great control. Very Chinese. They all look the same. Very hard to tell who’s who.”

The Australian TV network, Channel Seven, also released a statement defending Cooper:

“During tonight’s commentary of the women’s aerials, commentator Jacqui Cooper, a former Olympian and world champion, noted that an aerial maneuver was in a technical and style sense, very Chinese. Meaning that the whole of the Chinese aerial team are trained in the same way – and the maneuver referenced was a classic, technically perfect, trademark of that team’s style. At no time was the commentary racist, intended to be racist or offensive.”

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Skiing's origins in China's remote west
Local craftsman Slanbek, 63, tests traditional horse-hide skis outside his house on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Local villager Alimase holds traditional horse-hide skis in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local craftsman Slanbek, 63, stretches horse hair as he makes traditional horse-hide skis on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man rides a horse past a poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) chatting with Xinjiang minority people in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A policeman is seen through a car window at a security check point into Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A road to Khom village of Altay is seen in Altai Mountains, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local villager Sulita wearing traditional horse-hide skis makes his way home in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Namujeli, 13, skis home in Altai Mountains in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local craftsman Slanbek, 63, makes traditional horse-hide skis on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Bayaerta (L), 15, wearing traditional horse-hide skis stands next to Mieergenku wearing modern skis in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Traditional horse-hide skis made by local craftsman Slanbek are seen next to his tools on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local craftsman Slanbek, 63, pours boiling water to soften wood as he makes traditional horse-hide skis on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local villager Yonghong makes buttered tea inside her log cabin in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Villagers ride a horse carrying hay in Altai Mountains in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An ancient painting in a cave show rows of figures standing on what look like skis (top L), with herds of animals running below them, on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local villager Alimase skis with traditional horse-hide skis in Altai Mountains in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Mieergenku, 12, stands in a door of a log cabin next to traditional handmade horse-hide skis at Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local villager Alimase skis with traditional horse-hide skis in Altai Mountains in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A fox lies in snow in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local villager Sulita skis with traditional horse-hide skis in Altai Mountains in Khom village of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A cave containing ancient paintings that show rows of figures standing on what look like skis, with herds of animals running below them, is seen on the outskirts of Altay, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee SEARCH "CHINA SKIING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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