Magical Skis=French Olympic Gold


I love a good prank call.

And I love a good prank call even more when I can incorporate current events (the Olympics) and my new favorite hobby (Nordic skiing) because the setup becomes more believable and the ultimate joke is that much more effective.

Yesterday from noon until 4 p.m., I had some time to kill at work (that's how my job is sometimes—I'm more often paid for what I'm prepared to do than for what I'm actually doing), so I spent those hours watching coverage of the Olympic Games on NBC.

Since I finally learned to skate ski this year—thanks to Bogus Basin's passport program—I am fascinated by any Olympic event that involves Nordic skiing. Biathlon was particularly compelling, as the combined effort of anaerobic threshold skiing and steady-as-a-rock shooting is nothing short of heroic. Additionally, one of my co-workers has a daughter, Sara Studebaker, who is representing the United States in women's biathlon, yet another reason for me to follow the sport.

After France's Jason Lamy-Chappuis won a gold medal for his country in the men's Nordic combined event on Saturday, and fellow countryman Vincent Jay won gold in the men's 10K biathlon on the same day, it was clear that the French team went to Vancouver skiing faster than expected based on past results.

During yesterday's men's 12.5K biathlon event, the commentators remarked on how Lamy-Chappuis once again set an early pace, proving he would be an eventual medal contender. Al Trautwig said that the French truly seemed to have brought "magical skis" to Vancouver this year.

That did it. If having magical skis could make a person ski faster and better, I wanted some.

So I called up my favorite downtown bike-and-ski shop, hoping my voice wouldn't be recognized by my buddy who works there. I posed as a customer who, turned on by the televised Nordic skiing in Vancouver, was interested in purchasing a new pair of skate skis and wondered which brands the shop carried. My friend began naming inventory, when I interrupted, asking if they carried the same type of skis used by the French Nordic skiers in the Olympics.

"The magical skis," I said, "Al Trautwig said the French are skiing on magical skis. That's the kind I want. Do you have to use special wax with those?"

I couldn't hold it together any longer. I burst out laughing, identified myself and apologized to my buddy for wasting his time. But it was worth the laugh for him, as well, and he assured me he'd get those magical skis ordered for me—no wax required.