by Carter Ottele

Bear Recreation and Athletic Center— The 2022 Winter Olympics Games are underway in Beijing. But Grinnell College has already set its sights on 2024. This Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC (not to be confused with the Apple operating system iOS, Jupiter’s third-largest moon Io, or the state of Iowa), announced that the 2024 Olympics have been moved from Paris, France to Grinnell, Iowa.

The IOC justified its sudden reversal as an attempt to reach new viewers and update the Games for contemporary times. In addition, the organization seeks to infuse more local character into the event. So in addition to classics such as swimming, cycling, and that one where they spin a ribbon in circles, viewers worldwide will be exposed to several competitions that are already familiar to Grinnellians. Some notable first-time events include:

Train Racing

This exciting sport interprets the phrase “track event” in a whole new way. Competitors begin on eighth avenue, 100 meters away from the railroad crossing, and the train itself starts 100 m back. When the official fires the starting pistol, both the racers and the train converge upon the finish line. Anyone who beats the train advances to the next round, while the losers are eliminated from competition. Technically speaking, those who arrive at the same time as the train qualify for the next round, but the IOC acknowledged that it “expect[s] very few competitors to continue after a direct collision.” During the first round, the train moves at a jogging pace. But, in a move many suspect takes inspiration from the PACER test, the train’s speed increases each time. Competition continues until every athlete except one has lost to (or tied with) the train. The remaining athlete receives the gold, silver, and bronze medals as a reward for their efforts.

 

Ice jumping

Ice jumping came into existence following a 2021 survey that found 87% of Olympic viewers agree with the statement “the Games are not comedic enough”. In response, the IOC decided to experiment with slapstick humor. They hope ice jumping will hook younger viewers. Competitors sport textbook-filled backpacks and walk along a stretch of sidewalk. They must attempt to hurdle ice patches without hesitating, getting a running start, or in any other way “looking uncool.” In addition, participants must wear platform Doc Martens. If they fail to clear the ice, the IOC hopes that they will slip and fall in the most comedic way possible. A panel of judges score the athletes on how far they jump, as well as how “not uncool” they look. Some accuse ice jumping of being a shameless marketing tool. Others argue that some form of ice jumping has existed in the Midwest for millennia, thus making it culturally authentic. Either way, it’s expected to make a splash (or rather, a crash) in 2024.

 

Mailbox opening

Perhaps the most challenging of the pilot programs, mailbox opening takes place in the JRC mailroom. Competitors must remember their mailbox number, log into GrinnellShare—bypassing Duo Factor Authentication in the process—to obtain the code, open the box, retrieve the item inside, and close the box again. Medals are awarded for the speed of completion. Mailbox opening already exists outside the Olympic Games, though not without its fair share of controversy. Russia has traditionally dominated the sport. Almost every elite mailbox opener is coached by the infamous Boris Fedorov, who is notorious for his grueling training practices. However, in recent months, it has come to light that Fedorov may be responsible for encouraging potent performance-enhancing drugs among his athletes, such as rum bundt cake and diethyl ether.