April Fool’s: Vail’s Olympic hopefuls seek tainted air | VailDaily.com

April Fool’s: Vail’s Olympic hopefuls seek tainted air

Scruffy McGrew
West Slope chair, McCain campaign
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” After a two-mile jog behind a fleet of construction vehicles, Carmichael Walters sits down for a mandatory cigarette break.

With a pair of unfiltered Marlbaro’s dangling from his fingers, Walters let’s out a slight cough, then shakes his head.

“That,” he says, “Is weakness. How am I ever going to win a gold medal when my lungs can’t tolerate this pure air?”

Carmichael is one of several Eagle County athletes preparing for the 2008 Beijing Games, which are only months away.

When he finishes his cigarettes, Carmichael takes two puffs from his arscenic inhaler and takes a swig of a cloudy concoction.

“I’ve been drinking stagnant mine waste water from up in Climax to make sure I won’t get sick from the food and water over there,” he said.

Carmichael, a long-distance runner, isn’t worried about how prepared he’ll be for his sport.

“Look, I’m the defending World Champion, but I won that title in Los Angeles, where air pollution wasn’t a problem. My legs are strong as ever and I’m posting some great times. But I just don’t know if I’ll be acclimated when I get to China.”

While he may have to adapt, at least Carmichael can compete. Riffy Saddlesnatch has to wait another four years for a chance bring home archery’s most coveted prize ” an Olympic medal. Archery, along with the javelin were left off the Beijing docket due to low visibility; in a test run, an archer mistook what he though to be the target for a spotted owl.

“Yeah I’m upset,” Saddlesnatch said. “When you work your butt off for four years and then find out you’re going to have to wait another four, it’s torture. I’m in my archery prime right now. In four years, who knows?”

Even before she made the U.S. Olympic tandem bicycle team, Eliza Grange had her sights set on Bejing. Grange, a free-range organic farmer, took a job as a bartender when she heard China had been awarded the 2008 Games. But two years ago, Grange’s Olympic hopes took a big dive.

“When Eagle County banned smoking indoors and in public places, I was terrified,” said Grange, a vegan. “All those hours I spent priming my lungs went right down the drain.”

Last year, Grange underwent radical experimental procedure at Colorado Mountain College’s sub-Medical School that grafted lung tissue from lab rats who have been forced to smoke 10 packs of cigarrettes a day onto her lungs.

“I’m hoping all the whiskers I’ve grown are worth a gold medal,” Grange said.

U.S. Beach soccer forward and Bond resident Irv Sixkiller has been preparing himself culturally and politically for the 2008 Games.

“During practice, I have my kids sneak up on the sideline of the field with ‘Free Tibet’ posters, and as soon as I see them, I have to beat them to submission as fast and as mercilessly as possible. Forget about a gold medal, if I want to be a hero in China, I know what I need to do.”

Sixkiller, who is a computer programmer, has done some pro-bono work for the Chinese government shutting down what they deem ‘unsafe’ Web sites.

“I want these games to run as smoothly as possible,” said Sixkiller, who spent five years in a Hong Kong prison for ‘seditious acts.’

Eagle County has been chipping in to the athletes’ training, offering the county’s automotive garage with full-time running diesel engines, and the sewage treatment center as training facilities. Doral and Parliment cigarettes have sponsored several locals, as has the Alamosa Water Treatment District.

After his evening sprint workout, Walters headed over to the Vail Olympic Training Center for a 15-minute sweat session in the cholorine and amonia suana.

“I’m at a distinct disadvantage in comparison to the Chinese runners and trying to make up for lost time,” Walters said whlie spraying a menthol air freshner in the sauna. “I’m just hoping to God that New Dehli wins the bid for the 2016 Games. I’ll be ready by then.”

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