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Olympic spirit hits East Vail

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVail Mountain School's Taylor Brandt, left, and Elise Viola compete together in the two person bobsledding event Friday during the school's Olympic Games in Vail.
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VAIL, Colorado – Move over, U.S. curling team – there’s a new set of sweepers in Vail, Colorado.

Students at Vail Mountain School on Friday participated in a mock Olympics complete with curling.

Instead of stones, students pushed plastic scooters on wheels across the smooth gym floor toward a target. Some of the students even found various brooms around the school to use for sweeping in front of the “stones.”

“It doesn’t have any effect on the gym floor but it’s just part of the fun,” physical education teacher Mike Garvey said.

The school organized mock events during previous Olympics, and Garvey brought the concept back for 2010.

Students who competed in the faux games didn’t win medals, and that was part of the point, he said.

“It’s not about just winning gold medals,” Garvey said. “The [Olympic] motto focuses on the ability to just take part.”

The mock Olympics opened with a “parade of nations” followed by curling, skeleton and two-man bobsleigh events, Garvey said. A real Olympian even kicked off the games. Snowboarder JJ Thomas, a bronze medalist in the 2002 Olympics, visited with students and signed autographs.

Students represented various countries in the Olympics and many cultivated a sense of national pride.

Fifth-grader Sam Shay was pleasantly surprised to find he had been assigned to Madagascar.

“I thought it was crazy that Madagascar was competing in the Olympics but I was excited because it’s a good country,” he said.

Likewise, Liam Hurley competed for Austria.

“I though it was fun to be on Austria because you can say cool catch phrases like ‘I will terminate you,'” he said.

Vail Mountain School students learned about new sports for the mock Olympics. Three weeks before the event, the kindergartners through fifth-graders started practicing the events in gym class, Garvey said.

For two-man bobsleigh, one student sat on a plastic scooter, while the other pushed the teammate across the gym floor.

When it came to skeleton, students laid on scooters and pushed themselves through a course with sticks. The course wound around cones and took students through a mat tunnel.

Students were extremely excited about learning new sports.

“The hardest part was the ending turn,” Shay said of his bobsledding run. “My favorite part was when we crashed into the big wall. That was fun.”

(The wall was actually a mat. No bobsledders were injured.)

Along with honing new skills, students read short speeches about topics like the torch and the Olympic motto. Fifth-grader Sydney Sappenfield talked about the athlete’s oath.

“It makes people promise they won’t use drugs and they have to be fair,” she said. “I think it’s a good oath to make.”

Shay delivered a short speech about the torch relay.

“I learned that they carry the torch a really long time and it keeps burning the whole time – but it’s electronic. It’s not real.”

The main idea Garvey hoped to impress on students was the notion of sportsmanship. That lesson seemed to sink in.

“I learned that you have to have good sportsmanship,” Hurley said. “It’s not just about getting gold, silver and bronze. We weren’t competing for that. We just had a friendly Olympics and it was a lot of fun.”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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