Still, among the more active, a certain cynicism about Nagano's frosty Olympians is perhaps justified. After all, no matter how much televised sports you watch, calories don't burn by association. Yet, despite the hordes of skiers, snowboarders and other sporty types in de-NiÒo-ized Western Montana, I suspect many of my fellow citizens are just as slothful as I am.
To the rescue: Parks and Rec's annual Frost Fever, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 8 -- an athletic meltdown scheduled to save Missoulians from hardening arteries and increasingly impressive beer guts. Like the Olympics themselves, these homespun games sprawl across more than a week, and deploy a cast of thousands in a wide array of events.
Unlike the five-ring circus in Japan, though, Frost Fever is designed for easy access, and for both maximum fun and health benefits. According to Donna Gaukler of Parks and Rec, this year's fest is expected to draw about 5,000 participants. While popular events from past years are back, she adds, a new theme drives an expanded menu of workshops, activities and classes.
"This year, we're putting huge emphasis on a program from the National Recreation and Park Association called Active Living, Healthy Lifestyles," Gaukler says. "It's designed to make people aware that being more active really impacts your health, and that being active doesn't always mean you have to be involved in sports."
To this end, Frost Fever '98 has expanded to include free classes from Jazzercise, a seminar in healthy eating sponsored by the Good Food Store, low-impact exercise workshops for seniors and other workshops -- which is not to say Frost Fever '98 is some sort of jock-free zone, because there will be sports-a-plenty.
The Rhinoceros Broomball Tournament will stretch sanity at the Playfair Park Ice Rink as grown-ups armed with brooms do their best to score. Blizzard Ball, Montana's biggest and best winter softball tourney, will allow diamonds in the rough to become snow angels at Fort Missoula. And both the 11th annual Snow Bowl and Marshall Mountain snowboard jams will provide for alpine good times.
As part of the newly expanded schedule, gridders of both genders can win glory in the first-ever Frost Fever Flag Football Bowl (the 4-F Bowl?), a tournament split into four divisions for your pigskin pleasure. And Nordic skiing clinics and a luminary-lit night ski add to the traditional hibernal sports menu.
As Gaukler notes, when it comes to going for the gold, there's no substitute for the real thing. "It takes a lot of remote lifting to make up for a visit to just one Frost Fever event," she says.
Schedule for Frost Fever '98
All Week Long:
Open skating at McCormick Park. Noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. No fee. Limited skate rental available.
Free classes from Jazzercise. Held at the Fine Arts Building on the Missoula County Fairgrounds. 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. Saturdays.
Drop off donations for the Missoula Food Bank at the McCormick Park Warming House.
Area school kids take the Frost Fever Challenge. To involve your school, call 523-2754.
Saturday, Jan. 31
The Rhinoceros Broomball Tour-nament. Co-rec teams of seven battle for the coveted championship at the Playfair Park ice rink. Games today and tomorrow.
11th annual Snow Bowl Snowboard Jam. A two-day snowboard competition sponsored by Snow Bowl and Kind Snowboards. Today: Giant Slalom. Call 549-9777.
Nordic Ski Skating Clinic. Learn techniques of ski skating at the Pattee Canyon Picnic Area. Must have own gear. 10 a.m. $10. Call 623-2767.
McDonald's Kids in Action. Active games, crafts and fun for kids ages 6 to 12 at the McCormick Park Warming House. 10 a.m. $2. Call 523-2751.
Free rides at the Carousel. 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Public skate at Glacier Ice Rink. 12:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids.
Sunday, Feb. 1
The Snow Bowl Snowboard Jam. Slope-style Jam and Monster Air competitions held today.
The Good Food Store Family Skate Day. Skating, music, a hot grill, marshmallows, pony rides, hot drinks and GFS samples at McCormick Park. Noon to 6 p.m.
Frost Fever Flag Football Bowl. A new competition for seven-a-side grid squads. Flags and officials provided. Divisions for men's competitive (college vets allowed), men's recreational (no college experience), women's open and co-rec. Call 523-2756.
Glacier Ice Rink public skate. 2:25 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids.
Monday, Feb. 2
Good Food Store whole food seminar. In the large meeting room at Missoula Public Library. 7 p.m.
Glacier Ice Rink Public Skate. 4 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids.
Tuesday, Feb. 3
All-week events continue.
Wednesday, Feb. 4
Hold On! Climbing Gym's Introductory climbing session. Novice climbers learn the basics and start getting in shape for spring. At the Hold On! Gym, 235 W. Main St. 7 p.m.
Glacier Ice Rink public skate. 4 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids.
Thursday, Feb. 5
Body Recall: Senior Fitness. Low-impact fitness programs for all abilities. In the large meeting room at Missoula Public Library. 7 p.m. Call 549-7188.
Glacier Ice Rink public skate. 4 p.m. $3 adults, $2 for kids.
Friday, Feb. 6
Night skiing in Pattee Canyon. Moonlit x-country skiing on trails marked by luminaries. Bring your own skis or try limited demo equipment. 6 to 9 p.m.
Glacier Ice Rink public skate. 4 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids. Adults only, 9:45 p.m. $3.
Saturday, Feb. 7
McDonald's Kids in Action. Active games, crafts and fun for kids ages 6 to 12 at the McCormick Park Warming House. 10 a.m. $2 Call 523-2751.
14th annual Blizzard Ball softball. Montana's biggest and best winter softball tourney. At Fort Missoula Park. Continues tomorrow. Call 523-4692.
Marshall Mountain Snowboard Jam. Slalom and Monster Air. Registration 10 to 11 a.m., events begin at 11 a.m. $5 lift ticket, $3 per event. Call 258-6000.
Glacier Ice Rink public skate. 12:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids.
Sunday, Feb. 8
Frost Fever Frozen 5K Frolic. A fun run along the Clark Fork Trail system beginning and ending at McCormick Park Warming House. Registration before 10 a.m. $10 before Feb. 5 or $12 at the gate. Call 523-2751.
The Dog Days of Winter. Canine-centric events, with prizes, at McCormick Park Softball Diamonds. 1 p.m.
Missoula Humane Society Mobile Unit. Information on the service MHS offers, plus adoptable animals, at McCormick Park. 1 p.m.
Glacier Ice Rink Public Skate. 2:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. $3 adults, $2 kids.