Random sports strive for Olympic status


    By Jeff Hofmann

    The Winter Olympics will showcase the abilities of some of the world”s finest athletes, but others will be denied the opportunity to compete because their specialties are not Olympic events.

    Some of these forgotten athletes can be found here in Provo.

    Shannon Perkins, 21, a senior from Juneau, Alaska, majoring in nursing is a six-time world champion jump roper. She said she hopes to see jump rope become an Olympic sport someday.

    “Jump rope is gaining a lot of respect,” Perkins said. “People are starting to take notice.”

    Perkins and her Juneau Jumpers team won the International Rope Skipping Organization championship every year but one from 1989 to 1995. She has competed in Sweden, Belgium, Australia and other countries.

    Jeff Hansen has also competed internationally.

    Hansen, 21, a sophomore from Murray, Salt Lake Co. majoring in computer engineering, won the first-ever World Nintendo Championship in 1990 and repeated as champ in 1992 and 1993.

    Hansen”s dedication to Nintendo led him to practice eight hours a day while he was competing. He said he doesn”t see why Nintendo shouldn”t be included in the Olympics.

    “Croquet and golf used to be Olympic sports,” Hansen said. “If you replace a golf club with a controller, you”ve got Nintendo, so I don”t see why it couldn”t be an Olympic event.”

    Hansen”s mother Karen agrees.

    “If you have curling in the Olympics, you have to have video games,” she said.

    Hansen said he believes that more video games like PlayStation”s Dance Revolution that include more physical exertion will need to be made before Nintendo has a chance of becoming an Olympic event.

    Kelli Towers doesn”t play Dance Revolution, but she is a championship dancer. Towers, 21, took first place in American Swing with her partner Arian Lewis at last November”s Dancesport championship.

    Towers, a senior from Salt Lake City majoring in humanities, said she is not too concerned ballroom dance is not an Olympic sport.

    “Dance is already established in its own world,” she said. “It doesn”t need to be an Olympic event, but it would be fun.”

    UVSC student Ryan Waycasy would like to see bowling in the Olympics someday. Waycasy, 23, won the Utah state championship through the American Bowling Congress four years ago.

    Waycasy, who bowls nine games a week, said bowling”s popularity in China, Japan and other parts of the world may help it become an Olympic event.

    Perkins, Hansen, Towers and Waycasy compete in different events, but they have one thing in common: they resent people who do not consider them real athletes.

    “The people who say bowling isn”t a sport are the ones who can”t bowl,” Waycasy said. “If they show it on ESPN, I think that makes it a sport.”

    Towers also disagrees with those who say her specialty isn”t a real sport.

    “Dancers have to be able to complete steps that are technically perfect and demonstrate artistic impression,” she said. “The artistic aspect makes it even more challenging than some sports.”

    These champions may never win Olympic medals, but they haven”t given up hope.

    “I really miss jump rope,” Perkins said. “I would like to have a chance to compete again.”

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