I tell my 7-year-old the Winter Olympics are coming and that he's going to love it because they compete in really cool events like skiing and snowboarding.
"And snowball fighting?" he asks.
Well, no. I explain that the Olympics are for highly challenging sports. Although, if you think about it, none of these sports started out challenging. They were once normal, everyday activities, that were complicated for the purpose of competing.
Take sledding, for instance. We did that last weekend in our backyard. No one's gonna win a medal going down a hill on a cookie sheet. But the Olympic people figured out how to make it something to aspire to - roll the cookie sheet up on both sides, put three more people in there, and you've got yourself the Bobsleigh. Then you have to push it, run alongside it, then jump in it and skid down an icy hill. Brilliant.
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Same with skiing. The Olympic people really took that up a notch. Now it's Alpine Skiing - going 80 mph down a vertical drop through a series of gates. I imagine it was the sight of people wiping out and flipping through the air that they added the acrobatic element, which is now Freestyle Skiing. So where flips and twists were once deemed traumatic occurrences, they are now perfected, scored and rewarded with gold.
The Olympic people didn't have much luck with the cross country skiers. They didn't want to over-complicate their sport. They held firm on the basic skiing part - and just added a rifle. Voila. The Biathlon.
But they did a real number on the downhill skiers, with the creation of Ski Jumping - basically skiing off a cliff, and seeing how long you can make your fall last. It paid off; turns out controlled crashes are total crowd-pleasers.
They went crazy on ice skating. Skating on ice wasn't enough, you gotta jump. And twirl around three times while you're up there. Throw in spinning combinations with flying entries and foot changes while you're rotating six times. Add a spiral sequence, fancy footwork and put it all to music wearing a skimpy, glittery costume, and you have really taken ice skating far and beyond skating at the mall.
Too easy? The Olympic people have that covered. Just add another person. Now you're a pair. And you have to get your partner to do everything exactly like you without bumping into you, tripping you, or getting glitter all over the place.
So Olympic Snowball Fighting? Surely, you can trump that up to a competitive level.
Just combine it with the halfpipe snowboarding event. Put two teams of four snowboarders in that half-cylinder-shaped snow tube with a bucket of snowballs and let them duke it out, while snowboarding from one side of the halfpipe to the other. Points are awarded for technique, style and direct hits, with bonus points for hitting someone in the ear.