August 16, 2004
The globe’s best athletes competing in a centuries-old ritual of prowess and international pride: There’s little fault to be found in the Olympics.
But the slickerized, televised version of the games — suppressing results via 12-hour tape delays to maximize commercial potential, the incessant "athlete overcomes great odds" vignettes that owe more to Lifetime than ESPN — can turn almost anyone off sports (and rhythmic gymnastics) for a couple of weeks. It’s time to channel the Olympic spirit into activities a little closer to home. We suggest the following East Valley activities, inspired by the 2004 Summer Games. (And if you want to check into the real Olympic results, turn to our Sports pages.)
Olympic events in the East Valley
(Ceramics classes at Chandler-Gilbert Community College)
Throw pottery instead of the discus in the Ceramics 101 continuing education course from Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Classes meet three hours each Thursday from Sept. 23 to Dec. 2 at Chandler High School, 350 N. Arizona Ave. Cost is $89, and students must provide their own clay. For more information or to register, call (480) 732-7320.
Like the Olympic event, horseback adventures offered through Extreme Arizona and MTM Ranch in Cave Creek are open to both men and women. But unlike gold medal hopefuls, riders don’t have to wear stuffy outfits or jump over fences. Costs vary according to length of ride. (480) 488-8529 or www.extremearizona.com. Or, go on a trail ride through South Mountain Park at Ponderosa Stables, 10215 S. Central Ave., Phoenix. A one-hour ride costs $23 per person. (602) 268-1261 or www.arizona-horses.com.
(Open bounce at The Bounce Zone)
Enjoy the thrill of gymnastics without the competitive pressure or chalky hands at The Bounce Zone, 1166 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. Two bounce rooms are stocked with oversized play equipment including 20-foot-tall slides, 40-foot obstacle courses, 40-foot-long bungee run sports fields and party bouncers. Reservations are recommended for open bounce sessions 9 to 11 a.m.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. $8.95 for the first child, $7.95 for each additional child. Adults bounce free with child’s admission. (480) 632-9663.
Ask that your groceries be bagged in plastic, not paper. Open the trunk of your car in the parking lot. Return to the curb in front of your supermarket. Grabbing the handle with both hands, turn three full revolutions and try to put the bag in the trunk from the curb. Style points: Stepping off the curb is a "foot fault"; avoid purchases of canned items, which can dent vehicles and drop surprisingly large bystanders if thrown "offline."
Fire your own rounds (of film) at targets that move — the desert wildlife at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 37615 U.S. 60, near Superior. Those requiring supervision can take the park’s guided tours that begin 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Aug. 28. Admission price is $7.50 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12. Park hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. (520) 689-2723 or http://ag.arizona .edu/BTA.
(Synchronized swimming. No, really.)
If you learned all you know about synchronized swimming from Martin Short’s "Saturday Night Live" piece, check out Scottsdale Synchro’s first practice of the season 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Cactus Pool, 7202 E. Cactus Road, Scottsdale. Participants will have a chance to test their own skills in the water and talk to team members. Free. (480) 451-0240 or www.scottsdalesynchro.com.
(Crossing a parking lot)
Park your car in the center of a large, paved lot in the middle of the afternoon. Position yourself at the exit of the nearest building. Remove shoes and socks. Go to your car. (You will be surprised at the frequency and altitude of your jumps.) If your car door is open, it improves the distance of your final jump and prevents the unfortunate "bug on the windshield" effect. Allow for 20 to 40 minutes of quiet whimpering afterward.
UNEVEN PARALLEL BARS
(Craftsman Court pub crawl)
You’ll still be judged on balance as you wend your way through the bars and clubs that line a single block of Craftsman Court in downtown Scottsdale: Neighborhood hangout Acme Bar & Grill, gay video bar BS, cerveza-slingin’ Dos Gringos, superswanky Next, upscale Upper Desk Sports Grill, multiphasic The Venue of Scottsdale. (And in about a week, you can practice your exercises until 2 a.m.!)