The Olympics According to McCormick
Each time the Winter Olympics come around, there seems to be a new sport added. And the sports often are snowy versions of games that first appeared on dry land, like those boards they flip around on half pipes. In that sense, all games are versions of each other. What is ice hockey but golf on skates? And where once figure skating was just figure skating, they now have contests to see which men and women can effect the most intimate poses on skates. One event noticed this year seemed not to even qualify as athletics. Two ladies bearing what appeared to be land mine detectors pushed a disc around in what seemed to be a large-gauge shuffleboard. But creative sportsmen have not exhausted all the possibilities for Olympic fun.
One game we would like to see added is ice balling. It is pretty much what it sounds like. The competitors would line up on top of a mountain, each with a large (at least six feet in diameter) ball of solid ice. As in luge, the athletes would start the ball rolling with a push, then jump on top and dance around to keep their balance as the ball picks up speed and roars down the mountain, possibly reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour. This is a spin on the sport where guys get on logs and see who can stay up as the log rotates in the water.
To add another dimension of interest and competition, the athletes could use long sticks with boxing gloves at the end to try to knock each other off the moving ice ball. This would be good for the economy because the sport, as do all modern sports, would require an entirely new set of equipment, including, but not limited to: a helmet; knee and shoulder pads; a thubber (that’s the stick to knock the other fellow off) made of Louisville Slugger ash; and a version of a boxing glove, a little smaller than traditional boxing gloves, but somewhat larger than the scaled down gloves used in MMA. And, of course, shoes are a must. You would need a special shoe with tiny metal cleats to provide traction on the icy ball, especially if it heats up with speed and starts to melt. The adventure would be not only maintaining one’s balance as the ball hurtles down the hill, but also stopping it at the bottom. This could be done by reversing pitch, in which the cleated shoes stop dancing one way and go the other, as fast as possible, braking the ball in a gorgeous silver spray of particles.
Another game that should be considered is ice rowing. It is similar to traditional rowing, also known as "crew" (never "crew team"), in that ice and water are similar materials, depending on temperature. The shells – no need to give them a new name – would have blades on the bottom like a sled. The oars would be a cross between standard oars and porcupines, so the rowers could use a serrated edge to dig into the ice and propel the shell. This would be an exciting, fast contest, especially if the shells go downhill as on a ski jump. As with skiers, the shells would go airborne from time to time and the oarsmen, all eight of them, would feather their blades to reduce drag, and in effect create a certain lift as with the wing of an aircraft or the sail of a boat, which is the same principle but different. When airborne, the ice rowers would all crouch over as in ski jumping and speed skating, then all pop up and begin rowing when the shell returns to earth.
A high school crew can cover a mile in under five minutes, or about 12 miles an hour, even more than that in kilometers if you are European. Imagine the speed an ice shell could reach. Easily 30 to 40 miles per hour, faster in the air, and even more in kilometers.
These are just two fresh ideas to add a little spice to the next games, and keep the economy growing by rowing. But each to his own station. Wonder if anybody has tried igloo poker.