SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Faster, Higher, Stranger



February 25, 2014
Tuesday AM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska -
“You Alaskans must really love the Winter Olympics,” one of my Outside friends recently noted in an email.

“Why so?”

Always answer a question with a question. Trust me on that.

“Well,” she continued. “I mean, you get to watch them do all those things that you guys do all the time.”

Since I had just come in from “skeletoning” down Deer Mountain to get some ice cream from Tatsuda’s, I kind of got her point.

jpg Faster, Higher, Stranger

Olympic skaters
By Taylor Jones 2014,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

But not really.

“So,” I wittily responded. “I guess that means that you like to watch the Summer Olympics because javelin tossing is like, normal, to you.”


I had no idea what she just said. So I said nothing.

Fortunately, she continued on. No one ever waits for the other person to reply anymore.

“Of course not, silly, but life is different up there. Isn’t that what you people always say.”

“Well, if you mean ICSRFMH, you are right!”

Even if she had been paying attention, she would wouldn’t have got the “I Can See Russia From My House” reference, but I got it. Really, 90 percent of life is just impressing yourself anyway.

We chatted on for a while and I stopped trying to convince her that things like “slopestyle” skiing are not really life as we know it in Our Fair Salmon City.

But it did get me thinking about what an Olympics – winter or otherwise – would be like in Ktown.

Heckfire, it’s not that far fetched.

Vancouver had one a while back. Every other year it seems like Anchorage is convulsed in an effort to convince its citizens to spring for a bobsled track or two in order to attract an Olympics.

Yes, I understand that Ketchikan is a little on the small side to pull off a full fledged Olympiad that does not involve at least a dozen “rainboot” events.

jpg Olympics...

By Patrick Chappatte, NZZ am Sonntag
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

On the other hand, it’s not like anyone had given two thoughts to Sochi and Lillehammer before they pulled off Olympics. It would put Ketchikan on the map, that’s for sure.

The biggest challenge, in Olympic parlance, would be “venues.”

Venue is a nice way of saying “place to hold the event that will cost millions of dollars to build and will not generate more than 20 bucks after the Olympics are over.”

Unless lightning strikes twice and a community gets a second Olympics, the venues generally lie pretty fallow after the flame goes out. Some are used for future training sites but many end up getting turned into low grade amusement parks (“Luge Rides $10!!!)

About the only venue that was successfully “repurposed” were the bobsled tracks in Sarajevo which became artillery stations during the subsequent civil war. Perhaps not the best legacy.

But I digress.

Back to what can we do? Well, we can’t spend 50 guadzillion dollars like Sochi did to put on a two-week multilingual block party. That’s clear. And what would a more “homegrown” Ketchikan Olympics look like.

Well, it’s hard to imagine we would have anything that looked like “slopestyle” boarding or skiing.

I mean really, how many times do you see a railing out on in the middle of the wilderness?  Who came up with that weird mashup?

Let’s take skateboarding and we’ll put a bunch of urban elements in the middle of a ski run? I realize we’re trying to interest the younger generation in the Olympics, but that’s a stretch. Although the giant Russian nesting doll was a nice touch. You see those out on the Steppes all the time.

I guess the next creative mashup would be to take the biathlon, remove the shooting part, and replace it with video games. Yep.

Ski-ski-ski, zap, zap, zap, ski, ski, ski, zap, zap, zap.

At least that would force the gamers to actually exercise something more than their thumbs.

Going back to “slope style,” I did have a brief inspiration when another friend posted a picture of frozen Lunch Creek on Facebook a few days ago.


Okay, stay with me here.

The venue is a frozen creek. It involves skiing down the frozen creek (moguls and downed tree hazards galore) while being towed by a team of dogs.

It merges Alaska’s two favorite sports “dog sledding” and “stupid behavior.”

We could even make it more of challenge. Instead of having water stations like they do in distance races, we could have beer stations strategically placed along the course.

Well, that would probably not be the best idea. But the frozen creek and the dogsleds are a winning combination!

Anyway, that’s a start.  I bet you all have great ideas too!

We can do this. We can put our heads together and come up with a way to draw the world to Ketchikan simply by turning our normal activities like getting lost on Deer Mountain or getting the jeep stuck in a muskeg into world class sporting opportunities!




It could happen.


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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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Dave Kiffer ©2014

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