Margaret Hair: Howelsen gladiators


Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail

As winter wears on and I continue to be the clumsiest snowboarder to ever exist, two things have occupied most of my thoughts: ways to fill time outside of work, and ways to deal with the snow.

For the first, I've found that absolutely mindless pursuits - leading the way, reality television and game shows - are the best way to go. You might think the now three-months-old writers' strike would negatively affect the options there, but really, it hasn't.

A dearth of good TV has been a handy explanation for why watching 300-pound hulks with names like Titan and Justice whale on gym rats is so entertaining. But "American Gladiators" would be popular whether new episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" or "24" were coming out with a fresh, wildly illogical plotline each week.

Most network television got so bad so long ago that it didn't take a huge leap of the imagination to figure out what would happen if inspired writing stopped making its way to air.

As for coping with the snow, Winter Carnival is coming up.

So I was thinking, what if these two diversions were combined?

It's not so much of a stretch. There's an event on this year's schedule that reads something like this: "7:30 p.m. - Red Bull Sledstyle Demo: Fresh from the Winter X Games and Air & Style Munich, Heath Frisby and Joe Parsons will backflip their snowmobiles over giant kickers. Watch the Red Bull Snowcat build the course. An autograph session will immediately follow the demonstration."

For some, this type of addition might seem like a mar to the esteemed Winter Carnival tradition. But January 1958 editions of The Steamboat Pilot include promised stunts such as, "Steamboat's top young skiers will make the crowd gasp with their daring jump through a burning hoop."

Drawing distinct differences - other than equipment-based ones - between now and then is kind of like saying the revised "Terminator" obstacle course is an abomination to the venerated years in the early '90s when "American Gladiators" contestants fell into a pool made of foam bricks instead of one made of water.

So here are a few event-planning suggestions for "American Gladiators: Winter Carnival Edition," should NBC producers get desperate enough to pursue it:

1. Potential gladiator names: Ice Queen, Powder, Storm Peak, La Niña, Snow Cat, Snow Plow - really, when names like "Nitro" are the precedent, there is no one-to-three-syllable name too ridiculous.

2. Replace pools of chlorinated water with sheets of ice. People like to have an element of danger. Also, any balanced-based "Gladiator" event should be completed on a snowboard.

3. Perhaps more frightening than snowmobilers on a Red Bull kick is snowmobilers on a Red Bull kick who are wearing silver unitards, "Gladiators" style. Maybe avoid that.

4. Retain all completely frivolous or unnecessary explosions, especially those that involve compressed confetti.

5. Snowballs fired by air cannons.

6. A King-of-the-Mountain-style wrestling competition on a giant snow hill along Twentymile Road.

7. The Lighted Man skiing through a gauntlet of muscled, angry obstacles down Howelsen Hill.

8. Forget sleigh rides. Go with monster trucks.

While I'm still getting used to unearthing my car from a 4-foot mountain of plowed-in snow every morning, somehow I feel like picturing most of that snow being thrown at a "Gladiators" contestant - attempting to balance on a drawbridge, on skis - might make the chore a little more bearable.


tom bedell 9 years, 3 months ago

maybe we could get mr. T to be this years grand marshal.


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