Shovel in hand, it’s time to rework Winter Games
December 15, 2003
By Jared Green
Tribune staff writer
Let’s face it: the Winter Olympics are a sham. Speed skating, biathlon and ice dancing have nothing to do with modern life. I have yet to see anyone skating to work or the grocery store. The combination of cross country skiing and sharpshooting makes about as much sense as water skiing and operating a Palm Pilot. Don’t even get me started on curling.
As a city boy who just survived his first Tahoe snowstorm with only minimal damage to my health, vehicle and wardrobe, I’ve come up with some new events for the International Olympic Committee to consider. I’m hoping to latch onto some of that graft I always hear about in connection with the IOC.
Speed shoveling: Here’s the scenario – it’s 10 a.m. and you’ve got to be at work in less than an hour. Since sleepy time last night, a foot and a half of snow has fallen, burying your car and leaving the driveway filled with more powder than the 1986 Mets’ locker room. Your snowblower is out of gas. Better pick up that shovel, son, and get started. An industrial snowblower will drive by every few minutes and spray ice in random directions. Bonus points for the competitor with the most comedic slip-and-fall, especially leading to serious injury.
Wood cutting: It’s 7 degrees outside and 8 inside. There’s a wood stove available, but no wood inside the house. There’s some uncut timber out back under a tarp (as well as a foot of snow). First one to chop enough wood to bring the interior temperature up to 60 degrees wins. Competitors have a choice between dipping their hands in ice water or donning gloves covered in Vaseline before hefting the ax.
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Auto excavation: Closely related to speed shoveling, but much more artistic. Given nothing but an ice scraper, athletes will be required to dig 2 feet of snow from around a compact car.
What’s artistic about that, you ask? Once the car is freed, the only exit will be blocked by a barrier of ice, snow, dirt and amused onlookers. The car isn’t designed to break through such a barrier and the athlete will be required to flag down a passing car and convince the driver to help pull the car out. The passing drivers will include Hummer owners who would just as soon run over the car Bigfoot-style, parents with small children who make rude hand gestures from the back seat and tow truck drivers who apparently can’t be bothered with such a small vehicle. Begging on bent knees will be a deduction, but not a disqualification.
Ice walking: Competitors will carry as many filled grocery bags as possible and attempt to traverse an 80-yard stretch of iced-over pavement. Scoring will be a combination of travel time and weight carried, with the slip-and-fall, again, a bonus variable.
Race to frostbite: This is the simplest event. Competitors will sit outside without gloves, shoes or headgear in freezing temperatures. The first to lose a digit, ear or nose wins.
Chain installation/removal: Competitors will be given a set of tire chains that may or may not fit their vehicle. The first to put the chains on, drive a five-mile course of varying difficulty and remove the chains will receive the gold medal.
There they are, your new Winter Olympics events. I’m going to get a head start on training, so watch for me in ’06. If I don’t die in a bizarre tire chain accident, that is.
– Tribune staff writer Jared Green can be reached at (530) 542-8008 or email@example.com