A new event added to the upcoming Paralympic Games in Beijing has already been iced. Wheelchair Sidewalk Slalom is a thrilling obstacle course that pits athletes against the ultimate in rugged terrain: an average city sidewalk during the winter on garbage day.
Points are accrued by dodging car bumpers and overturned waste bins, and by staying upright on icy pavement that not one city planner or contractor ever considered making level. The excitement is heightened by a countdown timer letting athletes know that, should they fail to make it through the course on time, they will not catch their bus or get to the pharmacy before it closes.
The problem, as one official said, was that no athlete from anywhere on planet Earth managed to qualify. “We thought that maybe the Russians or the Canadians would have this on lock since this is how they live 99% of the time, but everyone ended up stuck in the snow, or slid onto the road and got disqualified. All of them!”
“I’m not very happy with my performance,” said Derek Reyes of Team USA. “But I have to say, they did a great job of recreating the neighbor’s truck blocking juuuuuust enough of the sidewalk to force some off-roading. It was very realistic.”
Sources say the International Paralympic Committee may be considering a different event for the 2026 Games, such as Slippery Parking Lot Ice Dancing or Competitive Winter Layering.