Winter Olympics for the Rest of Us

You may have Olympian-level skills if you just pick the right event.

Yes, that’s me. Shoveling events are my least favorite but the ones I do most often. My daughter videoed me doing the Sidewalk Shovel and posted it to her YouTube channel, SwirlscapeEntertainment. How about you? What are your best events?

The Olympics grew as a way to display prowess in abilities valued in ancient times for survival and dominance. Today, athletes compete by moving faster and farther, over a variety of terrains, and doing it with great artistry. Not to take anything away from the incredible athletes participating in the Olympics, but most people don’t do much cross country skiing or ice dancing, let alone speed skating or bobsledding. But, with the real winter olympics starting in a few months, now may be a good time to think about some more practical winter sports we can all participate in, like these:

Shoveling Events

Sidewalk shovel. Participants must shovel ten-inches of snow from a fifty-yard long, three-foot wide sidewalk. Fastest time wins but an inspector from the local Department of Public Works will impose penalties for any remaining patches of snow or ice.

Driveway shovel. Participants must clear a twenty-foot wide, fifty-foot long driveway of ten-inches of snow. Every twenty minutes, a snowplow drives by and dumps three-foot high piles of snow at the driveway entrance. Fastest time wins but the event requires a strategy for dealing with the snowplows.

Walking Events

Panic Shop. Participants must acquire a list of items from stores in the host city. Some items are common, like toilet paper and rock salt. Other items are a bit more exotic, like generators and chainsaws. Fastest time and lowest expenditure are combined in an arcane formula even the judges don’t understand. Points are deducted for getting within six feet of anyone in the stores who is not wearing a COVID mask.

Grocery Carry. Participants must carry two twenty-five pound, paper bags full of groceries across a one-hundred yard parking lot. The lot is ice covered and cars are driving around looking for open parking spaces. Fastest time wins but points are deducted for any damage to the groceries.

Building Events

Snowman Manufacture. Participants have thirty minutes to create as many snowmen as possible. The winner is determined based on the number, sizes, and diversity of snowmen as judged by a team of septuagenarian playground monitors.

Snow Sculpture. Participants have two hours to create a snow sculpture. Sculptures are judged on size, artistry, detail, and creative use of yellow snow.

Team Events

Commuter Crawl. Each team consists of six members. One member of each team begins at one of the six designated starting locations ten miles from the center of your nearest city. Any mode of transportation is allowed but points are deducted for vehicles that use fossil fuels, except for public transportation. The first team to have all their members reach Center City wins depending on points deducted for their choice of transportation method.

Capture the Parking Space. Each team must clear an inner-city parking space and defend it against people looking for parking spaces, none of whom are aware of the game. Teams also try to commandeer parking spaces from other teams. Snowballs are the only weapons allowed. The team with the most parking spaces at the end of 24-hours wins.

So whether you live in Boston or Atlanta, you can participate in our own version of the Winter Olympics. What’s your signature event?

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