Putting the HOF in the Ullrhof Games | AspenTimes.com

Putting the HOF in the Ullrhof Games

Benjamin Welch
The Aspen Times

Three sporting achievements will forever stand out in my memory.

The first is when I scored 31 points in a (co-ed intramural) basketball game. I was hitting 3-point buzzer beaters and my crab dribble was circa 2009 LeBron James.

The second time is when I sank six straight holes-in-one during the Barstool Open mini-golf tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska. This feat was made more impressive by my team’s determination to have a drink at all 18 bars along the course,

“It’s 5 o’clock, how is it not last call yet?” I posed to my roommate while trying to shove a french fry in my ear.

“That’s p.m., not a.m.”

“I need to go home.”

And the final memory that only the grim reaper can rob from me is this year’s Ullrhof Games on March 17 at Snowmass.

I was joined by my good friend Jon, who used to hoop with me on 8-foot rims in the church parking lot in ninth grade. I consider Jon my most normal friend, though “normal” is relative when you grow up homeschooled and consider coonskin hats everyday apparel.

We spent St. Patrick’s Eve tossing hammers at each other, practicing in anticipation of our worst category in the Ullrhof lineup: Stump. I had no prior experience in this hammer-throwing, nail-whacking game other than listening to my upstairs neighbor install flooring at 6 in the morning. (Hey, 301, cut it out!)

We dominated the Cornhole tournament, and a drunken determination guided my final bag through the hole in the championship match, saving us from merely achieving a morally unacceptable second place.

(“Cornhole” is such a vulgar name; I half expect Beavis to pop out of the board with his shirt over his head. That’s why we from the Midwest refer to this contest as “Bags”: much more family-friendly, as all drunken escapades should be.)

After a fickle breeze betrayed us during Beer Pong, we entered the final competition — Stump — as the hotly contested runners-up.

“At all costs, don’t just swing hard at the nail and miss,” I implored Jon, tossing him the hammer in a manner similar to what we had practiced the night before, though admittedly many of those throws clanged to the ground (Hey, 101, sorry).

Jon had no interest in my advice. Like Beowulf cleaving the head of Grendal, he rained a mighty blow upon the nail, sending it, I thought, somewhere off into oblivion. I threw my hands up in confusion.

But then a rumble from the audience.

“Wow,” someone muttered.

Jon had struck the nail flush with the stump, and the crowd watched — mouths agape, forced to bask in the moment a la “Clockwork Orange” — as we boisterously celebrated this marvelous triumph.

“I knew I hit it and knew I hit it well, yet … I had to take a close inspection before assuring myself that I had just swung us to victory,” Jon recalled after the contest.

We charged up the hill to claim our first-place prize: a pair of cruiser bicycles. We attempted to ride down the slopes in a victory lap to Base Village like Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando, but the tournament directors informed us we’d have to retrieve our bikes later.

As reigning champion, I propose an improvement to next year’s tournament: walk-up anthems. Mine will be the theme from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

And when the “wah-wah-waaahs” start, the Outcasts of Sobriety will be ready to defend the title, pong balls flying, hammers swinging, raccoon tails waving.

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