For one police officer in the sleepy town of University Place, a suburb just outside of Tacoma, biathlon was just a hobby.
“Me and my buddies just loved to ski and shoot on the weekends to unwind, you know,” said officer Mark Pendergrast, father of three.
Little did the 12-year-veteran of the force know his biathlon acumen would help bring down Tacoma’s most notorious criminal, Christoper ‘Slim Thuggins’ Williams.
At around 11 p.m. on January 23, 2012, Pendergrast received an urgent call from dispatch. Williams had been spotted in Chambers Creek Park, just west of 99th ave.
The 35-year-old acted quickly, taking the skis and rifle he had dubbed Batman and Robin out of his trunk.
An hour later the man thought to be Williams was subdued, with one bullet wound in his leg soaking the snow with crimson blood. Later, authorities learned Pendergrast had shot the wrong man, but boy could he ski and shoot.
“Would I do it again?” asked Pendergrast rhetorically. “You bet,” he said while being whisked away for the internal investigation that would eventually cost the city millions.
The Winter Olympics gives us a chance to watch sports we barely get to see. While World Cup events in Oslo provide a welcome respite from Saturday’s crushing hangover, no sleep is lost over the results of a Super G in Kitzbühel.
It’s a different story when the Olympics are involved.
We care about the results because it gives us the opportunity to belittle lesser nations. Have you seen how shambolic Kazakhstan has been in Sochi? My word.
But how much do these skills help Olympians in everyday life, when the games are finished and the advertisers leave? Of what use is an adept ability to hurl a stone down a sheet of ice when gunmen are holding your family hostage at a Radisson in Budapest?
Sochi After Dark presents the 2014 utility rankings of Olympic sports.
Long before the days of pizza delivery and public transportation humans relied on two things. Hunting their food and moving from place to place by their own means.
Biathlon combines the two seamlessly. Skis and rifles remain a way of life in the most northern parts of the world.
Most kids today can’t even load their own rifles. Somewhere along the way we, as a society, lost our way.
4) Figure Skating
You can’t make it in Hollywood these days without being a dual threat.
Sure he can act, but can he dance? Scott Moir, one half of the Moir/Virtue ice dancing team, has been hailed as one of the best actors not plying his trade for the big studios. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
An insider taking a break from the game–he currently sells fabric in Toronto– once told me Moir can be the next Zach Braff, but with actual talent. Doubt him at your own peril.
Simply put these people are probably the most fit people at the Olympics. Whether they’re fire fighters back home or club bouncers at some of the world’s sketchiest clubs, these people have true value to the world outside of a sleigh.
When your head is being smashed into the pavement for being jerk at China Rouge, the hottest club in Macau, remember these faces. Also remember that you probably deserved it.
All of the cool people I knew growing up where snowboarders. Now our definition of ‘cool’ changes as we grow older, and some of these people currently list vagrant as their occupation, but snowboarders remain some of the slickest, most laid back folks there are.
Whether it’s touring with the X-Games are doing whatever Red Bull tells them to do, being a professional snowboarder has perks beyond competing at the Olympics.
One time my dentist used the word ‘stoked’ unironically during a cleaning. Needless to say I changed dentists shortly after.
1) Speed Skating
Having legs the size of tree trunks will come in handy when the world devolves into a winter hell scape devoid of warmth and the sun.
By then we’ll be living on a giant sheet of ice, with roving bands of thugs on skates menacing the weak and weary, demanding what little food they have left.
Skating at high speeds will come in handy. You can be sure the Dutch will become our new overlords when, not if, iceworld becomes a reality. Get to the leg press while you still can.