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Phelps schmelphs: Poulsbo Olympics make splash in Liberty Bay
￼Olympic Outdoor Center’s Dock Olympics draw
Friday night crowd.
POULSBO — Never to be outshone, not even by a metropolis with the magnitude of Beijing, the Viking City hosted its own set of Olympic games on Friday. Olympic Outdoor Center owner John Kuntz and five of his boldest and baddest employees battled it out for the 15th annual Dock Olympics top prize, competing in a four-part kayak tournament full from alpha to omega of skill-testing watercraft aerobics.
And like any good Olympic convention of athletes, this one was not without controversy. Complete with a Change the Name Campaign (for years, the event has been called Dock Boy Olympics, much to the chagrin of its female competitors) onlookers sported signs while voicing their encouragement – and a little light jeering – toward the six contestants.
It’s just a “friendly, little, quirky competition,” said Kuntz. But it wasn’t one for the hydrophobic, or those adverse to bruises. The event kicked off with a kayak slalom through the pilings of the Port of Poulsbo, and progressed into American Gladiator-style feats of strength, balance and breath-holding.
Shooting out of the gates on the slalom first was contender Kendra Cox, who posted a 52.6 second time weaving through pilings on a blue and red kayak. But cheers from the crowd – “Own it!” “Dig!” and a playful “Shark!” – pushed next-up Forrest Wells to a 44.6 second turn, which couldn’t be beat.
The kayak roundup rode to a rocky start as Meagan Grandall took a flying leap into her boat, landing hard before hitting the water to corral three loosed crafts. But Grandall proved her worth, putting up a herding time of 48.5 seconds. Kuntz took a DQ after capsizing, while Wells took in a 35.8 second run after nearly tipping his boat at the starting point. But it was Ben Icard who came in fastest, with 32 seconds flat on the clock.
Next came the Walk of Death, a shin-beating obstacle course comprised of nine tethered kayaks. Each competitor had to cross the colorful semi-circle, stepping onto the seat of each craft without losing balance.
“It is one of the most exciting events on the face of the planet,” said Kuntz at the start of the games. “The winner will do it in under four seconds, and the losers will end up in the water.”
The event proved a scrambler for some, reducing their efforts to crawling across the crafts toward the dock, while others took the course in stride.
After practicing high knees, Kris Stemmler was the first to make a nearly perfect crossing with a time of 3.8 seconds, followed by Wells, who also pulled in a 3.8 second time. But once again it was Icard who took the competition handily, coming in at 3.6 seconds.
Facing the evening’s final contest, the kayak drop, the six participants took to the rail near D Dock and were hoisted by onlookers, while in a kayak, and tipped one way or another over the railing and into Liberty Bay. Points were given for style and technique.
Stemmler opted for a backwards entry, while Grandall took the leap after pumping an “I am not a dock boy” sign. Cox put the kibosh on any sexist remarks after being dumped into the water from overhead, earning marks for bravery – and personality.
“That was terrifying. Terrifyingly awesome!” she said.
Icard made a Wild West impression, looping one arm in the air on his way down with a yelp, but it was Wells, with a semi-backwards, twisted dismount and upside down landing followed by three hand rolls, that took the awe of the crowd – and the title.
For more information on the Olympic Outdoor Center, visit www.olympicoutdoorcenter.com or call (360) 697-6095.