I’ve had a lot of fun watching the Winter Olympics these past few weeks. The strength and skill of all the athletes is breathtaking. I watch their feats in awe, feeling inspired to go for the gold despite the certain knowledge that I will never reach their level.
Good news! Ordinary people like me can compete in the Juneau Pseudo Olympics. There are a variety of events suitable for all ages and skill levels. All it takes is a few inches of snow and some blasts of cold weather, and the Games are on.
For pedestrians, there’s the sidewalk slalom event. While walking along the snow-encrusted sidewalk, you dodge the piles of dog poop left behind by careless dog walkers. Success in the sidewalk slalom depends on intense focus and concentration. It takes a keen eye to spy all of the piles before a stray foot steps in them and you are disqualified. Participants in this event are strongly cautioned to forgo texting while walking.
Pedestrians can also compete in the slushstyle event. Conditions are ripe for this competition once a good base of snow has been laid down and then the weather warms up to result in a slushy mess. Participants in this event have to successfully navigate the slush. Proper gear is a must: Xtratufs are the Olympic favorites. In addition to speed and style, judges are looking for a minimum of splashing. Anyone with mud splashed above the knee is automatically disqualified.
Cross-country walking, the final event for pedestrians, takes place at the Sliding Center, otherwise known as any trail or sidewalk on a clear, cold day. It is a simple event, consisting of staying upright while at the same time attempting forward progress across a sheet of solid ice. Artistic arm flailing is as important as sure footing in this competition. Pair walking is always a joy to watch, as competitors slip and clutch onto random bystanders in a last ditch effort to keep themselves from falling.
Then there are the driving events in the Juneau Pseudo Olympics. Curb jumping is one of the most popular. You can either jump onto or off of the curb, depending on a variety of factors ranging from skid trajectory to laziness when it comes to finding the exit to a parking lot. Judges are looking for style as well as proper wheel placement in relation to both curb and gutter. Points are automatically deducted if your car ends up pointing in the wrong direction. Remember, the curb jumping competition must never take place at the same time as the sidewalk slalom.
There is also a downhill event for drivers. Competitors must drive down an ice-covered hill and stick the landing at the bottom without any skidding or swerving. Juneau’s premier venue for this event is Main Street, of course, with certain private driveways vying with David Street in Douglas for runner-up. Speed is a secondary consideration in this event. Drivers are judged on the degree of deviation from the direction of traffic, how far into the intersection they end up, and the pattern of gouge marks left on the ice by their studded tires.
Curling is a very popular Pseudo Olympic event in Juneau. To compete, you simply sling a rock onto the ice covering the lake. You get full points for breaking through the ice, but partial points can be achieved based on the placement of your rock in relation to all the others strewn about on the ice. No brooms are used in the Juneau version of curling, as evidenced by the sheer number of rocks sitting on lake ice throughout the winter. Never fear — the rocks will all sink to the bottom of the lake when the ice breaks up. This sport is dear to the hearts of little boys, who practice year-round by throwing stones into any available waterway.
Whether you train for pedestrian or driving events or opt for the noble sport of curling, rest assured that you can compete in the Juneau Pseudo Olympics every winter. You don’t even have to wait four years for your next opportunity.
Let the Games begin!
• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” Her latest book, Historically Dead, is available at Hearthside Books. She likes to look at the bright side of life.