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Sports column: Our latest taste of winter left us all with indigestion

A month or so ago, when a small winter storm was threatening Vicksburg, I wrote a whimsical column about the possible sports that would be included in a Mississippi Winter Olympics.

I hope you took notes, because a few weeks later we had enough snow and ice to put it all into practice.

Instead of the usual two inches of snow that’s melted by the next afternoon and only serves as a small taste of winter, this time we got to visit the full Arctic buffet. A little snow on this part of the plate, some freezing rain over here, and top it all off with a layer of ice.

There’s a joke in the 1980s comedy classic “Vacation” that they don’t close Florida. They do, however, close Mississippi when we get this kind of weather.

Schools closed. Stores closed. Roads closed. Interstate 20 became the setting for the worst season ever of “Ice Road Truckers.” Truck drivers can navigate ice-covered dirt roads and frozen lakes in Alaska, but throw one icy Mississippi hill at them and they’re stuck for three days.

It wasn’t all frozen misery, though. As always, it didn’t take long for folks in Warren County to break out of their igloos and have some fun. Families sledded down hills and had snowball fights, and then came inside for a warm cup of hot chocolate.

The ice wasn’t thick enough to strap on ice skates, but you could certainly slide across it in a pair of tennis shoes. Even in 15-degree weather I turned my frozen driveway into a miniature skating rink, gliding around it like a happy fool. I like to think I looked like an Olympian, even if I was fortunate to avoid looking like Nancy Kerrigan after she got clubbed on the knee.

Thankfully, most of us seemed to settle for watching the Daytona 500 on TV and not trying to live it on the roads. Enough folks got stuck and had to be rescued that first responders were working around the clock, but reports of serious wrecks were pretty rare. It’s hard to do much more than slide off the road when you’re only going 15 mph.

The good and bad part of this edition of the Mississippi Winter Olympics was its longevity. It was fun at first, but then we all remembered how awful it is to be housebound for very long. Even during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns we could at least play around in the yard without freezing.

So once the weather warms up this weekend and we douse the torch — in this case a 55-gallon drum filled with firewood somewhere in Yokena — let’s all agree to pray that we won’t have to do it again for a while. A small sample of winter fun is a unique and tasty delicacy. Right now, I think we’ve all had our fill and are on the brink of indigestion.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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