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Zak of All Trades: These Olympic games are more my style

February 14, 2014

If you'd asked me about a week-and-a-half ago, I probably would have told you that I wasn't all that interested in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

But then, after a weekend lacking any football or hockey — one having recently ended and one having taken a break for said Olympics — I found myself tuning into the Olympic games and enthralled by the competitions all over again.

I watched in awe as snowboarders pulled tricks that I'd never imagined possible, skiers raced down a course designed with speed and only speed in mind and biathlon athletes huffed and puffed while trying to steady their guns for a clean shot.

I even found myself — though I'm not a fan of ice skating or ice dancing or whatever it's called — amazed at the level of talent that goes into a four-minute performance, as a 15-year-old Russian girl and an American couple that trains in Michigan stole the show and impressed on all levels.

I'm yet to catch my favorite event — curling — but I'm sure that will come before these games are over. And do you know why curling is my favorite of the winter activities? Because it's one that I could do!

There aren't many events at the Olympics where I'd fit in. I'm not in the proper shape to cross country ski. I'm not of the proper shape to fit inside a bobsled with three of my closest friends. And I don't have the guts to propel myself down a ski slope at 84 mph or off the end of a ski ramp or down a snowboarding halfpipe.

But curling? Now that's a sport that I could see myself making a living on. I'm sure it's nowhere near as easy as it looks, but it sure looks easy, and so I'm sticking with that idea.

And, my potential future as an Olympic athlete — combined with the seemingly endless effect of winter and a polar vortex in this state that I call home — got me to thinking about some other sports that we might be able to add to the 2018 games, which will be held in South Korea.

These sports would be more up-close-and-personal events, where the training is hands-on and comes simply from living in the winter weather.

These events would also open the playing field to many more representatives and would require less training — both positives for my chances of getting in.

1. 10-meter sidewalk shoveling — While many Olympic events are about endurance and speed combined, my chances of winning a medal in anything that's not labeled a sprint would go down significantly as soon as the gun went off to start the event.

In the 10-meter sidewalk shovel — an event I've been practicing all winter — the contestants would fire off the line with the sole aim of clearing a 10-meter-by-1-meter area of sidewalk of snow and minor ice build-up.

The event would be a strong suit for big guys similar to myself with some strength and zero endurance.

Estimated finishing time: 13 seconds flat.

Adding a bit of difficulty for the finals, contestants could be penalized for scuffing the surrounding grass or could be forced to shovel a sidewalk with a built-in step.

2. The sedan car brush-off: While brushing off my car is my least favorite of the winter weather activities/chores, I feel like calling it training might just make it a bit more fun and make it feel a bit more worth doing every single time I step outside this time of year.

In the event, which has multiple categories, I would fall into the sedan category because of my long reach allowing me to cover the majority of the top of the car without changing sides.

Judging from some of the cars I see driving around, others could use some practice in this area too, as many cars seem to carry a four-foot high ice chunk on top of them as they maneuver through the local streets.

Estimated finishing time: One-and-a-half minutes.

Adding difficulty in this category would include taking away the defrost button and the radio — because, as we all know, music just seems to help us work faster.

3. Synchronized snow angeling: That's right. I just turned it up a notch and recommended that we throw a team sport into the mix.

While synchronized anything can be dangerous, I really feel as if it might pay off in this event. Making a snow angel seems easy, but throw in synchronization, and what seems like a walk in the park becomes a masterpiece in motion.

Size, of course, would not be a determining factor, but snow angels would be expected to maintain proportions, and twists such as adding a halo and keeping one's hat from covering his or her eyes would be areas where bonus points could be earned.

The difficulty in such an event would almost certainly fall on the shoulders of the Russian judges, who always seem to be getting blamed for not offering the Americans a fair score. Regardless, I'd pay just to see some of my friends try this event.

4. Icicle swatting: Icicles come in all shapes and sizes: False. Icicles come in all sizes, but they only come in one shape — dangerously pointy triangles.

With that said, this is the X-Games element to the games that I could see myself participating in. My long arms would certainly be an advantage as I reach out over porch ledges and toward a roof with these frozen beauties dangling down.

Bonus points would be awarded for a clean break, while penalty points would come into play when the gutters show any signs of damage.

Competitors would have 10 seconds to dismantle as many icicles as possible. Judges should be warned to keep a safe distance, as flying projectiles may be closer than they appear!

5. Hibernation: Need I say more? So, there you have it. Five Winter Olympic events in which I think I could bring home the gold medal.

With one week of the competition in the books, I do hope that you'll find some enjoyment in the real events that are going on as you try to avoid being snowed in by the consistent, persistent snow that's been surrounding us all winter!

Stay warm, my friends!

Zak Lantz is the editor of The Spirit, and when he's not writing or
proofreading, you can find him practicing for his own version of the Winter Olympics.

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