Writing Switch: Testing your medal | AspenTimes.com
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Writing Switch: Testing your medal

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Writing Switch

Athleticism is one of those things that you either have, or you don’t. Judge us by our size, do you? Watch Ben bowl a 182 or Sean pedal his townie to Carbondale and you’ll understand what we mean. The Summer Olympics are in full force and — if you can stomach the glut of cringy, pseudo-inspirational commercials — demonstrating how the power of sport can bring the world together as long as they don’t smoke marijuana.

What event could you maybe be good at?

BW: I believe to be among the very best at something, you have to be training basically since birth. I’m sure Steph Curry had a basketball in his crib. Which means that it is way too late for me, since “keyboard jockey” isn’t a position in any sport. But if I (or my parents) had the foresight early on, what could I have excelled at?



Table tennis? No, those players are specifically bred to play Ping-Pong. Shooting? No, I often miss 5-foot disc golf putts. Rowing? No, not smart enough to get into an Ivy League school. Badminton? No, my editor won’t let me make shuttlecock jokes.

At this Tokyo 2020 (?) Olympiad, however, they’ve added a new contest that my homeschooledness could’ve feasibly competed in: karate.




And I wouldn’t have to actually fight anyone and get my shit rocked. According to the Olympics website, “Kata (form of karate) are demonstrations of forms consisting of a series of offensive and defensive movements targeting a virtual opponent. … Key factors include the strength, speed, rhythm, balance and power of strikes and kicks; the solidity, clarity and force of movements; and the proper expression of the meaning of each technique with beautiful, flowing motion.”

Sean can attest that “beautiful, flowing motion” is the most accurate way to describe my grace on a snowboard, so combine that with airy, culturally appropriated garb and those talents will probably translate. We’re going to Japan and bringing that karate trophy home, um, such as it were.

SB: I thought water polo for various reasons until I watched some recently. They need refs in scuba gear calling out underwater violations before I dip my toe in that water.

Anything distance is out because cardio is not in my genetic makeup. Ditto for volleyball or anything that requires me to be taller than 6 feet.

Also, if I’m taking this seriously, which I am, I would have to select an obscure event that the U.S. doesn’t care about, and I think that sport is handball. I have no idea how it was created or by who, but my assumption is soccer took off, and some European felt left out because he wasn’t great with his feet, so he created an easier version. It’s like when people want to play hockey but they can’t skate so they pivot to foot hockey.

Also, I’d like to sit here and cast aspersions at people who dedicate their life to handball in a similar fashion that I attack so-called “experts” on “Pawn Stars.” Like, really, you committed every fiber of your being to be the world’s foremost expert on Woodrow Wilson’s signature?

However, pro handball clubs do exist, and Mikkel Hansen, who plays for PSG’s club, made 2.5 million euros last year. I’m sure I’m being a little overconfident about the ease of handball, but if my lone purpose in life was jump-throws, I could make the U.S. handball team. That U.S. team qualifying for the Olympics is a different discussion altogether, though.

Which event might kill you?

BW: I’m pretty sure I would be able to survive most anything with “games” in the title, since we’re all just out here having fun, right? (Except probably the Hunger Games or any game that requires me to be in a body of water for a period longer than a few seconds.) What would probably get me in trouble is hanging out with my good friend Ryan Lochte downtown in a foreign city, getting booked into a third-world jail where I can’t speak the language and sentenced to a lifetime in the gulag by some inquisition-style kangaroo court system. It was only public urination, calm down, Pol Pot.

Not only would it be an honor being part of a very exclusive group who get to compete in the most prestigious sporting event in the world, but partying in Olympic Village would be super fun. The way I envision it: Six hours of sleep on an uncomfortable, cardboard bed that was made for people no taller than 5’8″ (whew), then winning gold in karate, then losing my mind celebrating with very attractive and fit people from all over the world, stumbling back to my room with a shot putter from the Russian Olympic Committee and being crushed and killed when the bed collapses. Awesome.

Nah, just messing, I think I’d be all right. It’s not like I’m unfamiliar with sleeping in an anti-fornication bed.

SB: This is kind of a general answer, but it’s pretty much gymnastics in its entirety. Other than the ribbon dancing segment, which I don’t know if they still have, I’m either snapping my neck or leaving on a stretcher. My horizontal bars routine would end with either me clotheslining myself on the bar or flying off the bar and into the stands, killing myself and couple spectators in the process.

If I miraculously made it to the point of even trying a dismount, it would be like watching one of those skateboard videos that’s just a montage of bone breaks and heads hitting concrete — or as I like to refer to it, the “8mm” of skate porn.

Let me just rundown the events and most logical injuries/cause of death:

Floor exercise: Broken neck on the first try at a handspring.

Pommel horse: Broken pelvis/groin area and subsequent suicide over loss of feeling in area.

Still rings: Dislocated shoulder(s) or death via blood loss because both my arms were literally ripped off from my body.

Vault: Too many injury/death scenarios to list.

Parallel bars: Most likely no death but definitely a broken bone that also gruesomely breaks the skin.

Sport that should be in the Olympics

SB: Disc golf

In the vein of “I’m not good at the hard version, so let me play its significantly easier sister sport,” disc golf is the clear redheaded stepchild of golf (and, no, I’m not going to apologize for ginger shaming). The stereotype of a disc golfer is a stoner who can’t afford normal golf and doesn’t conform to fascist clubhouses or their tyrannical tee times. They show up, with IPAs in tow, and talk about arm angles and shaping shots like the sport doesn’t revolve around a toy you learned how to throw playing with your dog in the backyard.

I play both ball golf and disc golf, and it’s probably telling that I know my personal low round on the links but have no idea what my best disc golf round is despite being “better” at it. The only way I would ever watch disc golf is if it’s an Olympic sport, and Bob Costas is out here doing puff pieces on Eagle McMahon’s upbringing.

Would I know that name if I didn’t just Google “World’s best disc golfer”? Absolutely not, but I would be 100% delighted to learn that he’s a Coloradan and was homeschooled while he walked up the 18th fairway needing only a two-putt for gold. Instead, the only fun I get from that information is asking Ben why he sucks at disc golf even though he also is from Colorado and was homeschooled. IOC, please legitimize golf’s mutant outgrowth for the potential unintentional comedy alone.

BW: The 10:55 Dash

I usually am wrapping up my workday near 11 p.m. when I realize I have seven minutes to hustle my ass to the liquor store. Doesn’t matter what I’m (not) wearing or how many sandals I can find, I’m in the car and screeching tires through the alleyways to Local Spirits. Years of this routine had me trained for when I was staying in Texas and the booze shops closed at 9 p.m. and all day Sunday. Unless you wanted to spend Saturday night making a reduction out of Listerine and isopropyl to get you through the weekend, you always had to be mindful of clock management and how many red lights you could risk running.

To make the podium, there’s a twist to this event: It will be structured similar to a drag race rather than a winner-takes-all sprint. Dressed as beautiful women, participants are given a shopping list — two liters of Svedka, a bottle of resposado, maraschino cherries and a six-pack of Pilsner, for example — and they must predict their time without going over, “Price Is Right” style. Winner takes a free bottle of Goldschlager, loser gets delirium tremens.


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