I spent the last few evenings watching the Winter Olympics and each night I walked away from the television feeling more than a little proud. A great deal of that pride is for the wonderful athletes who are representing this country and their great achievements and commendable sportsmanship. But some is also reserved for the outdoorsmen and women of this great land – for I’m quite sure we had a strong influence on many winter Olympic events.
Most people would presume I am talking about the biathlon – the event that requires athletes to ski from location to location and shoot at targets along the way. Well, you’d be wrong. I don’t know a single outdoorsman or woman who would ever combine such an intensive cardio workout with shooting. We know the targets aren’t going anywhere. So, what’s all the rush about?
No, our influence of events is less obvious and frequently falls under the category of happy accidents. By the way, the term happy accident presumes you weren’t the one involved in the accident.
Let’s begin with the most obvious sport that the outdoors community has influenced – figure skating pairs. No one who looks at this sport with its dizzying spins, exciting eye contact, and airborne leaps can deny that it is just a more sophisticated version of what happens when two ice anglers try to start a power auger whose blade has been frozen and lodged solidly in a partially drilled ice fishing hole. The similarities are undeniable, from the incredibly fast spins as they hold onto the handles for dear life while the powerhead spins and the auger remains immovably lodged, to the dual Axels as they finally realize that they must let go. The last time I saw this it was as beautiful sight as I’ve ever seen on ice and, if put to music, would have probably at least earned a bronze.
I also believe that the figure skating routines I watched the other night were too similar to what occurs when two ice anglers without good treads on their boots flail about on glare ice. The only difference was the outfits and the skates – although to be honest, who knows what a person wears beneath their snowmobile suit.
Then, there is the luge run, which as I have stated before, is just a refinement of what happens when an ice angler leaps belly first on a runaway ice fishing sled. And don’t tell me the person who invented bobsledding didn’t come up with the idea after seeing the passenger sled suddenly unhitch from the snowmobile towing it.
Snowboarding? It happens every time an ice angler steps on a piece of cardboard that blew onto the path leading downhill to the lake.
Short track speed skating? That’s what happens when an otter comes up the hole into an ice hut.
Of course, I could go on. But the point is that winter Olympic sports have been heavily influenced by the antics of outdoors enthusiasts just like you and me. And that’s not a terrible thing either.
It might, however, be good for our scouts and coaches to know that there is a pool of untapped talent in rural Canada from which they could draw.
Not to brag, but I do a pretty mean triple Lutz.