2017 Summer Games Yellowstone National Park

Billy Lightpaw Middle weight contender for the Broad-jump – Summer Games Yellowstone National Park.

 

As long time readers of the BigShotsNow blog you know that every 4 years Yellowstone National Park holds the Summer Games in preparation for the Wildlife Olympics with entrants from around the globe. This year the games are being held in Yellowstone once again with venues at Gibbons Meadows, the Madison river, Hayden Valley, the LeHardy Rapids, the Lamar valley and the Blacktail Flats area.

This is always an incredible experience with visitors attending from all over the world. As usual most of the events are standing room only as tickets have been sold out for many of the big events for the last two years. However most events have roadside observation areas set up to accommodate the overflow crowds. Be prepared for Bear Jams, Wolf Jams, Buffalo Jams, Otter Jams and every other jam you can think of as the various contestants make their way to the different events, while those attending Yellowstone for the first time slam on their brakes, throw open all four doors where  applicable, and race out to greet and get their first up-close view of the different contestants, leaving their vehicles unattended and blocking the roadway. This impacts traffic bringing it to a standstill for hours. As this also usually results in the arrival of the First Responders stationed throughout the park to take care of the maimed and wounded that occur from way too close encounters with animals that are wild and have never heard of Disney, it takes awhile before the visitors cars can be impounded and hauled off to be shredded. Prepare for long waits depending on the popularity of the contestant being viewed.

This years games are truly spectacular with many new participants such as one of the real contenders in the light heavy-weight broad jump, Mr. Billy Lightpaw, here shown settling into his patented “Squat and Jump” starting position. Mr. Lightpaw also known as Billy the Bumper to his friends ,currently holds the amateur broad jumping record of 32′ 8″ set last fall at the pre-hibernation games outside of Ottawa and is considered to be a gold medal frontrunner. Notice the coiled spring like action of tucking his head in and rolling back on his powerful haunches prior to his launch. Simply incredible. This is why he’s a crowd favorite. This event has plenty of accessibility due to the wide open Hayden valley floor. Binoculars are highly recommended.

The Madison river will have a new event this year, in fact it’s the first time this event has been offered in the summer games and it is likely to be a huge crowd pleaser. It is the “Calf Drop” and it’s a doozy. There are no front-runners in this event due to the fact that only first time Buffalo mothers can enter. Those due to drop their calves during  the week of August 11th and August 22nd are automatically entered. As mentioned before there are no front-runners yet but the likelihood of twins and even in the rarest of circumstances triggering an automatic Gold medal, triplets, might be expected. There is a lot of interest in this event by the press and mothers around the world.

Another fun event for the whole family is being held at LeHardy Rapids this year. It’s the “Otter Fish Off'” and this event is one that ESPN has scheduled for prime time coverage. As you know from previous games this one is fast paced and exciting. Upstream at the top of the rapids, barrels of trout averaging 26″ to 41″ inches long and weighing up to 96 lbs.each are released to streak down the rapids where the contestants wait at the bottom. The Otter that gets the biggest fish with the least amount of personal  injury is scored on tenacity, conviviality, ferocity and good manners. This is a high interest event for the entire family and you may want to arrive a few days early to get a good seat.

The “Wolf Run” or “Elk Calf Take Down” is an event that is best watched on TV or the various Jumbo-trons set up along the highway as much of the action is out of sight due to the rugged terrain through the ponds and small streams in the heavily brushed area that is Blacktail Flats. This year we’ll have extra coverage as the various networks are employing their new “Wolf Drone” cameras which are able to follow the wolves as they run down the elk calves and drag them out of the buck brush where they like to hide. Odds on favorite this year is of course the Blacktail Flats Pack for their intimate knowledge of the area.

Gibbon meadows will again be the site of the contestants housing area, media outlets, Torch lighting, and the entrance and closing parades. A Special “I Paid A Lot Because I’m Special” Pass is needed to access this area. If you don’t already have one you might as well forget about it. There’s none left. Sorry. Seems like everybody is Special.

The Lamar valley is again host to one of the all time favorite events, “Buffalo Herding”. This event has been a staple of the Summer Games for as long as I have been making them up. It is not someone herding the Buffalo but instead the Buffalo proudly showing off their skill at being a herd member, their ability to ‘herd’ as it  were. There are synchronized marching exhibitions, where the different herds show off their ability to walk together with all four legs synchronized, which if you’ve never seen it before is mesmerizing. There is a herd bull “Bellowing” event where the different herd bulls get on opposite sides of the valley and bellow at each other until one runs away in shame. There is a new event this year where the herds travel along the valley floor with the newborns running alongside ( the little orange ones ) to see how long they can run with their tongues out. And last but not least the contest that pits the different herds against each other to show who can make the trip up the Gibbons Narrows to the meadows above the slowest. The resulting length of the traffic tie up from the buffalo jam decides the winner. Last years numbers to beat are eleven and a half miles and five hours to make the six-mile trek up from the bottom of the falls to the summer grazing. Everyone travels at Buffalo speed for this one.

These are just the highlights of the summer games there’s plenty more so start packing and head on up to Yellowstone for another amazing year of the Summer Games at Yellowstone National Park. We’ll look for you there.

2016 Yellowstone Summer Games

2016-02-25SummerGames392

Every four years Yellowstone National Park puts on its very own Summer Games. This is similar to, but larger in scope, than the summer Olympics that occur for the human games, as it includes the entire park and all of its year-round inhabitants. Everyone participates according to their skill level and choice of events. We intend to periodically feature some of the participants as they train and get ready to win the gold.

This week we look in on little Ms. Lindsey Vethouf as she and her trainer mother, Constance Vethouf, get ready for Lindsey’s participation in the Synchronized Swimming event. This event is one of the most popular and watched events of the entire games as it features close to 75 young cow elk swimming together in synchronized patterns in the deep pool area of the Firehole river. Lindsey although young for her age is an experienced river forder and is expected to place very highly in this event if not win it outright.

Normally this area would be full of tourists swimming and trying desperately not to be  swept over the 40′ falls just downstream in Firehole canyon, but for the Summer Games this area is closed to the public so the elk swimmers can train daily and finally compete in this important venue. This is a limited access event and as such does not have formal seating constructed, no bleachers or skyboxes have been built as the edge of the roadway past this area is only inches from the sheer drop-off, so the spectators must find their own way out onto the sheer cliffs that line the pool area and locate something sturdy to cling to as they view the events. The small risk of losing their footing and plunging down in the pool area is outweighed by the excitement of watching this spectacular bunch of young elk athletes perform their intricate maneuvers.

In the picture above you see Constance Vethouf adjusting Lindsey’s fur to make sure it lies flat and shows itself as a fetching pelt, which helps not only with water resistance but aids in her ability to stay buoyant as she performs some of the routines that require her to float on her back. Constance, herself a medal winning Synchronized Swimmer having won the Bronze in the 2008 games, has a huge amount of knowledge to pass on to Lindsey. Everything from showing her the correct grass to eat to maintain her weight, yet have the energy it takes to stay in that cold water for the long hours of practice, to how to keep her head above water and not to lose points for gasping, spitting and looking like she is drowning when she is occasionally forced under water due to some of the more rigorous routines.

The games are shaping up to be even more spectacular than in preceding years and if you are lucky enough to get tickets for this event, remember to bring Crampons, Pitons, and a tested climbing rope as well as snacks and non-perishable water, as much of the seating requires technical climbing to reach. Watch for further posts as we feature more of this years Yellowstone Summer Games hopefuls as they train and dream of the Gold.