Feb 222014

Maybe like a number of you older folks, I can’t think of the Winter Olympics without this image going through my mind.


“… and the agony of defeat …”

Okay, I know Vinko Bogataj‘s ill-fated “agony of defeat” moment didn’t happen at the Olympics—it was actually at the 1970 Ski-Flying World Championships—but it was burned into our collective consciousness as part of the Olympic narrative because it became such a memorable part of the opening of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” which was the U.S. broadcast outlet of the Olympic games for a loooong time. (By the way, Vinko only sustained a concussion in the crash and although he never became a ski-jumping superstar, has gone on to have a fairly pleasant life.)

I suppose there’s that other Winter Olympic moment might be one that some of you may recall …

I remember watching that live as a kid and actually jumping around the room when the U.S. won …. you know, completely unlike what happened this year.

Oh well, 1980 was just a special moment that inspired me . . . not to dedicate countless hours training in the hopes of possibly becoming an elite athlete who might compete at a chance to win a gold medal. No, that’s too much work, and if you couldn’t tell by my choice of writing for a living, I’m a bit “work-averse,” to put it politely. (“Lazy” is not inaccurate, either.)

No, this year’s Olympics have inspired me to create ….

6 New Events That Should Be in the Winter Olympics

1. Snow Removal Slalom – I have been the chief snow removal engineer for the domiciles I’ve lived in pretty much my entire life, so I know my way around a snow shovel, to say the least. In this event, there would be a long downhill driveway that competitors have to clear—but wait, there are challenges that may or may not be inspired by my current driveway (and by that I mean they have totally been inspired by my current driveway): large bumpy sections of broken pavement; a barrier on one side (like a house) forcing snow to be tossed only in one direction only; a section so wide that that each shovelful has to be carried a ways before it can be tossed; and bitter cold wind that always blows into your face.

As a matter of fact, if the potential U.S. team in this sport wanted to train in my driveway, they would be welcome with open arms and hot cocoa—heck, I’ll even spring for the mini marshmallows!

(Obviously, I have a sneaking suspicion that I would medal in this specially designed one as I’ve already competed in it 14 times this winter alone.)

2. Full Contact Figure Skating – Why leave figure skating up to the judge’s discretion? Just let every competitor skate at the same time in a giant battle royale, and whoever is left standing wins the gold. Easy, peasy, Yamagucheesy!

Insert your favorite Tonya Harding joke here, I suppose.

I would say that they may be on the right track with Snowboard Cross, which I have become smitten with. Of course, there are no video highlights from the current Olympics, which had 6 competitors going at once, but this clip from 2010 gives you the idea.

3. Snow Sculpture – Considering the trend is that more and more Olympic medals are being decided by inexact and subjective (and not objective) judges, why not add a completely artistic event? I mean, if you can “judge” ice dancing, snowboard halfpipe and that prancing around with the giant ribbons on a stick, why not make a contest of the making of snowmen (like the work of this random talented artist I Googled)?


“This is what happened to the East German judges who dared to give me a 4.8.”

And obviously, there would be individual and team competitions—I mean, who wouldn’t want to see what inspiration might spark up the Jamaican snow sculpture team?

4. Snow Diving – It’d be like the ski jump, but instead of a nicely inclined downhill landing zone, athletes would ski off a giant cliff, do all sorts of tricks and then just fall straight down into a “soft” cushion of snow. Picture a Wile E. Coyote sort of situation with points for style—just over and over again.

5. The Ultimate Snowball War – A combination of dodgeball, capture the flag and the Hunger Games (minus the gratuitous murder of children) this would be a unique event in that every team would compete at the same time! It’d be played over a snowy five-mile “field” on the side of a mountain or equally challenging landscape . . . officials would hide ONE flag somewhere, everyone would be sent in at the same time.

I’m thinking teams of five, at least. Get hit with a snowball, and you’re eliminated (or maybe just sent to a penalty box for an hour); if you’re holding the flag and get hit, you must relinquish the flag on the spot. Whoever can get in, find the flag and get out unscathed wins the gold medal! Points also might be awarded for finding the flag, number of “kills” or amount of time retaining the flag.

In order to succeed, there will have to be alliances and sacrifices; great stamina and athleticism will be needed to retrieve the flag, but strategy and guile would also be necessary. If done right, the game might go on for hours or even days! It’d make for great TV, sort of like “Survivor” meets “Knock Out” with a dash of “Ice Road Truckers.”

6. Killer Sled – My friends and I played this on the long downhill of Sassacus Drive, which often was not plowed because it was a dead end—essentially it’s The Road Warrior on sleds.

Simply: Each two-athlete team starts at the same time, the first one to the bottom wins and the rules are: there are no rules.

In our version, there was a “driver” and an “attacker.” Ideally, the driver went for the finish while the attacker went after other sleds to stop them by whatever means necessary (say like hopping aboard another sled to run it  into Mr. D’Aurelio’s parked Buick and abandoning ship just before impact). As you might imagine, the participants’ roles were often interchangeable during any run, and more than once, if you were fortunate enough to survive and limp across the finish line, it might not have been on the sled you started with. You also might end up with a frozen facial or slush down your back—it was snow-fueled anarchy!

And if the Olympics can’t get behind such glorious carnage, then I’m not sure we should participate any more! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!!

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