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Lesser Known Olympian Events

This winter New Jersey has seen enough snow to host its own version of the recently concluded Winter Olympics. Don’t make light of this, the revenue could have given us some badly needed state budget funding.

Not all New Jersey residents are the caliber of world-class athletes. But there are plenty of other sporting events happening across the US all year long receiving less attention that may be more cut out for those non-Olympians among us.

Like the tenth annual North American Wife Carrying Championship, which was contested October 10, 2009 in Sunday River, Maine. Winners Lacey and Dave Castro of Lewiston, Maine earned a position in the World Championships in Finland.

As most people know, the Olympics date back to ancient Greece. Well, the origin of wife carrying goes all the way back to ancient Finnish history.

A nineteenth century robber known as Rankainen required men to complete a punishing test course with a heavy sack on their backs in order to qualify for membership in his merry band. During those days men often “stole” women from neighboring villages.

According to www.snowyriver.com, wife carrying contestants face a 278-yard course built on the lower slopes of a ski resort. It begins with an uphill run which continues through a waist-deep water obstacle, and then turns downhill over two 39 inch high log hurdles.

Winner Dave Castro receives his wife’s weight in beer, and five times her weight in cash.

Truly international competition took place in Eau Claire, Michigan on July 4, 2009. Www.treemendus-fruit.com reports that Rick(Pellet Gun) Krause of Tuba City Arizona has won his fifteenth world championship at the 36th Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Championship.

Krause’s pit traveled 48 feet and one-half inches for the victory, despite the handicap of spitting south against a northbound breeze. His son Brian(Young Gun) Krause, a seven-time champion himself, holds the world record for cherry pit spitting distance at 93 feet six and one-half inches.

The competition doesn’t stop at men. Marlene(Machine Gun) Krause won her sixth women’s crown with a 36 foot three inch spit. And to complete the family domination, Brian’s son Morgan, 5, won in the Youth 5 and under Division, while his brother Brady, 11, won the Youth 9 to 12 year-old Division.

Meanwhile, the USLMRA’s motto is: We turn a weekend job into competitive sport. The USLMRA is the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association, which was founded on April Fool’s Day in 1992. Www.USLMRA.org tells us Gold Eagle Co. of Chicago brought lawn mower racing to the US from the British Lawn Mower Association in England.

The USLMRA has a national Points Championship series, offers televised events, and has more than forty chapters and clubs. They now have over twenty races across the country, the next one being the Third Annual Lawn Mower Grand Prix, happening March 20-21 in Macon, Georgia.

Another international group from the United Kingdom wants to join the 2012 Olympics in London. Www.verticaldance.com tells us that the Vertical Dance and Labfitness group is sending a petition to the International Olympic Committee to make pole fitness an Olympic event.

They make some convincing arguments. They believe that like figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics and the horizontal bar, the vertical bar has its place in international competitive sport. Also, pole dance/vertical dance is acrobatic, gymnastic and technical, and requires a lot of physical strength and skill to master.

They conclude that BMX biking is now an official sport, so why not vertical dance?

Why not indeed.

Anyway, if you’re missing the Olympics now, clearly there are plenty of events you can try to fill your competitive desires throughout the entire year. If Vancouver had gotten all of the snow this winter instead of New Jersey, we could be training for lawn mower races now.

Instead, our area has become highly skilled in our own athletic event: synchronized snow shoveling.

Olympian indeed.
 

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