Sure, the world’s attention may be focused on the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but one dad is bringing the intense athletic action a whole lot closer to home.
It started with a 12-foot-tall homemade ice luge Tim Smith, from Crystal, Minn., built in his front yard to keep his three kids - ages 12, 10 and 7 – entertained. But after they had gotten plenty of fun mileage out of it, the steep, slippery slope took a competitive turn on Feb. 6, the same day as the opening ceremony, as the family hosted an elaborate kiddie winter Olympics for the whole neighborhood.
“We had actual Olympic medals,” Smith said of his miniature winter games. “We put stickers on them that said ‘Smith Olympics.’
“As they came up,” he continued, “I had a cordless sound system. I asked them what country they were representing and said, ‘Welcome to the Smith Games.’ The sound was bouncing off the houses and it was just so powerful.”
The family even had an official table for athlete registration where the children received their numbers.
“It was really cute,” said Smith, who explained the competition was split up into three categories: speed, distance and style.
“It was all on the ice luge,” he said. “The first was speed. Each kid got three timed runs, and whoever had the best run was the winning score.”
“Then there was distance,” he recalled. “The overall distance was measured. Of course that’s pretty easy to judge.”
But they saved the best round for last, as the style competition was easily the fans’ and athletes’ favorite.
“The kids had a lot of fun with the style category,” Smith said. “It was freestyle, so the kids could do whatever they want like putting their hands up or really getting creative.”
“People had a lot of fun trying to come up with tricks,” Smith’s daughter, Savannah, 12, said. “My brother had the [most awesome] trick ever. He went down on one sled, and in the middle of the slope, in the really hard part of the luge, he switched sleds.”
Smith kept the entire experience as authentic as possible, even having the kids help him “light the Olympic torch,” which he explained was actually a huge caldron set up to keep the participants warm in the harsh, freezing Minnesota temperatures.
“Everybody totally appreciated it,” he said of the event’s success. “With the huge fire and sounds of the Olympic song playing, just everything lit and in full working mode. It was incredible for kids and adults alike.”
But for Smith, the best part wasn’t even pulling off the sporting spectacle. He says it was the kids’ reactions and comments.
“It was overwhelming,” he explained, pausing to gather his emotions. “They really loved it.”
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