Politics, Moderate



Winter Olympics lack realism; how about snow shoveling?

By Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

The start of the Winter Olympics coincided with a significant winter storm here in Chicago, and somewhere between my fifth trip out to shovel the sidewalk and my third pulled muscle, I reached a conclusion fans of these Olympic games might not appreciate: The Winter Olympics lack realism.

"But wait!" the Olympic faithful cry. "What's more real than remarkable athletes competing to be the best in their sport? What's more real than Red Gerard, a 17-year-old from Colorado, jumping from last place to a gold medal in snowboarding after an acrobatic run that made heads spin?"

Don't get me wrong, that's all great and exciting. But as I stood knee-deep in the icy slush a snowplow had shoved on to the end of the driveway, as I stood in actual winter, I didn't see too many snowboarders landing backside triple cork 1440s. I saw a noticeably uncomfortable dog attempting to pee in snow that went up to its butt, but definitely no snowboarders.

The block was luge-free, as best I could tell. There was nary a speedskater in sight.

Inside, where it was warm, and where I was not, there was ample excitement on the television screen, with elegant figure skating and blazing fast Alpine skiing. But outside, in winter, it was long stretches of tedium mixed with weary displays of mandatory pseudoathleticism in the form of shoveling and sweeping and trudging.

And that's when I decided the Winter Olympics are a sham, a ruse, a crafty public relations move aimed at getting us to think winter is pleasant and inspiring.

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I could have sloshed off through the slush and grumbled and groused, or maybe slipped and fell on a patch of ice, a sort of ironic homage to the constantly tumbling Olympic figure skaters. But instead, I had an idea. An outstanding idea. An idea that could transform the Winter Olympics, bringing the lofty event down into the relatable world of the common winterer.

I'm talking about ... the Realistic Winter Olympics!

The International Olympic Committee could keep all the current events. The skiing-straight-down, the skiing-side-to-side-with-some-jumpy-parts, the skiing-while-occasionally-shooting-at-things. The curling, which involves a stone sliding in what more-or-less appears to be a noncurling straight line. The thing where they lie flat and slide down an icy track going 8 million mph, like narcoleptics with a death wish.

The IOC could keep it all, but just add in a few events that people like myself, my fellow Chicagoans and anyone who deals with winter can appreciate.


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