It’s once again time for that “other” Olympic games, the spectacle that occurs in even years between the real Olympics held on non-slippery surfaces.
This year’s games will debut plenty of new sports in addition to the fun-filled, time-honored classics such as curling, biathlon, figure skating, bobsleigh (not to be confused with “bobsled,” which is, at last glance, the same thing), ski jumping and luge. For those confused by the various sledding sports, lugers career down the track crotch-first, while the aforementioned bobsleighers sit upright, cozily spooning one another in the vehicle, and the skeletors, competing in the skeleton, lead with their skulls. None of them have figured out how to stop.
Last month, Jacques Fraust, head of the International Olympic Committee’s Subcommittee on Experimental and Tentative Olympic Innovations (known as SExTOI), revealed the list of new events slated for the South Korea games. The following rundown includes the more noteworthy among them.
Snowman: Participants will be required to build the perfect snowman in 30 minutes or less. Entries will be judged on height, girth, roundness and symmetry, along with more subjective concerns such as consistency of distance between buttons and materials used for hat, eyes, nose, mouth and corncob pipe. Event organizers fear a dry snow pattern, which threatens to emasculate the effort but, curiously, provide a decided advantage to the team from Zimbabwe.
Snowballing: Billed as “paintball with snowballs,” this event features dye-treated, color-coded spheres used to peg and thus eliminate enemies dispersed throughout a wooded glen. Competitors will wear white jumpsuits that will evidence hits and provide effective camouflage. Teams caught cheating, or “wiping,” will have their countries immediately removed from the U.N.
Ice Fishing: The controversy surrounding this sport stems from the requirement that participants must be at least 60 years old. While waiting for their “tip-ups” to signal a catch, athletes will huddle in makeshift huts and simmer canned baked beans on hibachis. Medals will go to those with the largest fish and the least amount of frostbite.
Winter Triathlon: Modeled after the venerable Polar Bear Club, this event involves a two-mile swim in frigid waters followed by a 100-mile cross-country skiing adventure and a 26-mile snowshoeing trek. It is expected that, when crossing the finish line, most participants will, in fact, be dead.
Tongue Lifting: In an event destined to favor powerful Nordic athletes, competitors will lift ever-increasing amounts of weight solely with their tongues, which will be frozen to metal bars. Medal hopefuls will be eyeing the world record of 3.8 stone, held unofficially by Lars “The Lizard” Heidrostadt of Sweden.
Agony of Defeat: In 1970, Yugoslavian Vinko Bogataj turned himself into a human avalanche while attempting a ski jump. The footage exemplified the “agony of defeat” on ABC’s Wide World of Sports for a generation. Now, in deference to the infamous fail, competitors will endeavor to recreate his mishap masterpiece, earning points for fidelity to the wildly akimbo launch and subsequent face plant. Those exhibiting an exact match of Vinko’s fractures surely will medal.
Snow and Ice Sculpting: The most artistic of the new “sports,” snow sculpting and its cousin, ice sculpting, ask participants to fashion creations celebrating the athletic pageantry that is the Winter Olympics. Accordingly, swans, the Disney castle, Pixar characters, dragons and Pegasus will not be permitted. Violators will be lined up and shot repeatedly by snowballers.
Icicle Epee: In a bizarre homage to the presumed perfect murder, combatants will duel using hand-picked icicles hanging from outhouses located throughout the Olympic Village. In this beautifully choreographed exhibition, ice fencers circle one another, dodge, duck, thrust, parry and stand in disbelief at the sight of their weapons shattered into 27 pieces upon contact.
Waterboarding: Initially decried as a human rights violation, waterboarding in this modernized form eventually gained sanction. Inspired by Jack Dawson’s selfless act in Titanic, athletes will bob in arctic waters buoyed only by a wooden door. Medals will be granted to those who can withstand hypothermia the longest and whose nostril icicles extend well beyond their chin.
Skate Blading: In this hybrid sport, participants descend ice-covered downhill ski trails on snowboards fastened to skate blades. The resulting conveyance allows athletes to reach speeds of more than 150 miles per hour. Finding a way to stop has proven difficult (much like with the aforementioned sledders), so the finish line has been established at the Mongolian border.
Halfpipe Hockey: The traditional halfpipe structure has been extended to 61 meters, the length of a hockey arena, and has maintained its concave shape. Goals are placed at both apexes, making scoring truly an uphill battle. To keep them from sliding toward the center, goalies are secured to their nets with short bungee cords. Given that scoreless ties are not permitted, it is expected that the first game will last the entire fortnight.
Kneecapping: In an ode to the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding soap opera that dominated headlines at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, athletes in this event will participate in a figure skating competition only hours after being whacked in the knee with an iron rod. No medals will be awarded in this one-time exhibition, but style points will be given for broken laces and demonstrations of a triple axel-double toe loop punctuated by a firm landing on one’s keister—a maneuver known in skating circles as “Gilloolying.” Three winners will receive a lifetime membership at an Oregon trailer park.