The committee formed by Mayor Michael Hancock to examine whether Denver should bid on a future Winter Olympics — probably in 2030 — met for the first time last week. What decision it comes to will almost certainly be informed by Colorado's refusal to pay to host the 1976 games — a legendary move inspired not just by daunting financial figures but unanswered environmental questions, and one that helped propel Dick Lamm into the governor's mansion.
But the past, it seems, is past. Now Denver is interested again, and all city-who-cried-wolf warnings notwithstanding, the International Olympic Committee seems open to a bid. What would the Denver Olympics have to offer that would make them stand out as unique? Let’s start with these eight "sports."
8. Snowboarding and Smoking
It’s like Colorado’s version of the Biathlon. Who does skeet shooting anymore? This isn’t Norway in the eighteenth century, and there’s not a whole lot of call for the combination of skiing and shooting rifles these days. Do you know what most people in Denver call snowboarding after smoking a bowl or two? Just snowboarding.
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7. Balance I-Beam
Let’s bring gymnastics into the Winter Olympics, too, this time requiring that gymnasts do their balance-beam routine on icy I-Beams at the multitudinous construction sites throughout RiNo and downtown. We can make sure there are nets, of course — no need to make this particular event more dangerous than it has to be. But just think of the dismounts!
6. Ice Biking
Denverites do it during rush hour at least a few days out of every winter, so give the X Games crowd something to do with their BMX bikes: Slap on some studded tires and race the downtown circuit through traffic. Bonus points awarded for actually stopping at lights and signage!
5. Colfax Curling
Curling is one of those Olympic sports that makes people say, “Wait, this is an Olympic sport?” So let’s make it a little more interesting. We’ll make up a route — start at the Zephyr and move west, stopping at the Hangar Bar, and then to the Elm and Lost Lake and P.S. Lounge. By the time the curlers hit the Lion’s Lair and move quickly down to the Satire and Nob Hill and Satellite...well, let’s just say curling won’t be the main attraction anymore.
4. Goose Poop Slalom
Yes, most slalom courses take place on snow — but Denver itself just doesn’t get enough. How to incorporate our city parks into the Olympic festivities? Take some lemons — or in this case, a crazy amount of goose crap — and make some lemonade with a slalom course where you try valiantly to avoid said goose poop. And when you invariably hit some, then do your best to tell yourself that it was just a grass plug from all that lawn aeration the city must do. Yes, that is what I just hit, you will tell yourself. And then you will close your eyes and think about medaling.
3. Ice or Not?
In this exciting new Denver winter sport, contestants are taken out to a semi-frozen lake and asked to cross it without falling through and getting trapped beneath the surface. At some point (maybe from the get-go, based on how little ice Denver has actually seen this year), it’ll turn into a Polar Bear club, and it’ll all be about endurance. And patience. Perhaps especially for the viewing audience at home.
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Can you find a space downtown during the Olympics? It’s an event in and of itself!
1. Winter Olympic Debate
And by this we mean actually debating whether to host a Winter Olympics. Hey, we’ve been doing it since the early ’70s here in Denver. Might as well start earning medals for the effort.