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'Vitalympics' explores winter fun

The "Smoosh" Boarding event pitted five-member teams against each other in a race against the clock. It was one of eight events that were part of Saturday's "Vitalympics" in New Richmond.

Turns out the organizers chose one of the coldest days of the winter to conduct the first ever "Vitalympics" on Saturday.

Still, the games went on, under the direction of coordinator Dave Mehls, with the city parks and recreation department.

"Overall, given the conditions with no snow and below zero wind chills, I thought the event went well for the first time," Mehls said.

Mehls said the feedback he received was positive and people indicated they had fun, even though it was chilly.

"I think everyone made the best of it as I didn't hear complaints about the cold," he said.

Mehls noted that the music provided by Lyle Orr with "A Notable Event" helped to keep everyone's mood up and made the time go quickly.

"Lyle did a nice job with the music and it was nice to see people dancing as they did the events," Mehls said. "It helped take their mind off of the cold. To quote Christine Melby, it created an 'invisible blanket of warmth over the entire event.'"

The day didn't go off without a few hiccups, Mehls noted.

"But the competitors were also very flexible and just went with the flow when it came to the events when we had make changes, so I was very appreciative of that," he said.

Five teams competed in the winter event, with the "Ice Cubes," captained by Matt Kerlin, taking first place and the championship trophy. The Croix Cruisers, captained by Teresa Kvam, took last place and took home the Vitality Awareness trophy.

Other participating teams included Westfields Hopsital, captained by Brian Lease; Hatless Wonders, captained by Dan Mehls; and Vitality Initiative, captained by Jeff Holmquist.

The teams competed in eight different events, including an obstacle course relay; turkey bowling; Frisbee toss; "snow" golf; broomball skills relay; Smoosh Boarding race and more.

Mehls said the event wouldn't have been possible without donations from Family Fresh, which provided frozen turkeys for turkey bowling; Gibby's Lanes for the bowling pins; Messes and Masterpieces for the trophies, concessions, red carpet and overall cooperation coordinating the event; High Point Framing for the trophy replacement parts, engraving and Vitality Logo on the trophies; Nobles Tires for the tires in the obstacle course; and numerous Vitality Initiative volunteers.

The "Vitalympics" is part of New Richmond's ongoing Vitality Initiative efforts. The grassroots effort is encouraging residents across the community to take steps to exercise more, eat better and improve their overall wellness in 2012 and beyond.

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