The opening ceremonies have come and gone, but our televisions are full of winter sports and the fanatic fervor that accompanies them. You know us for our geeky reputation, but we’re no stranger to sports here at Quirk Books. To celebrate the winter games, we dove into Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends, a personal favorite of ours by David Stabler with illustrations by Doogie Horner. The result is a geeky thought experiment – what if the kid athletes that Stabler showcases were winter athletes?
Danica Patrick, NASCAR Driver
Danica Patrick has always felt the need for speed. At eleven years old – before she even dreamed of driving for NASCAR – Patrick started racing go-karts in the World Karting Association. She was often the only girl in this male dominated sport, but she didn’t let the cutting remarks from her competitors get her down. She used their negative energy as fuel, beating them at their own game. While racing is a summer sport, we would love to see Patrick compete in skeleton racing, a sport that asks athletes to plummet head-first down a steep track of ice. The sport looks terrifying, but Danica Patrick doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything.
Bobby Orr, Hockey Player for the Boston Bruins
Bobby Orr is already a winter athlete, but as a kid obsessed with the ice, his life could have gone in any number of directions. We’re thrilled that he chose to play for the Boston Bruins – at fourteen years old! – but Orr had a lot of hustle in him and a number of odd jobs growing up, including polishing floors at his elementary school. Between the ice and his expert floor cleaning, we think Orr would be excellent at curling – a sport that requires teams of four to move a granite stone across the ice using brooms or brushes to pave the way. We know that Bobby Orr is always up for a challenge and curling would be definitely put a completely different set of skills to the test.
Gabby Douglas, Gymnast
Gabby Douglas is our favorite gymnast of all time but imagine what she might be doing if she chose a winter sport. Douglas learned how to cartwheel at three years old, but within days she’d moved onto trickier maneuvers like handstands, flips, and one-handed cartwheels. Her family enrolled her in gymnastics lessons and the rest is history. We like to imagine Gabby Douglas competing in freestyle skiing, a sport that combines the speed of skiing with the aerial maneuvers of gymnastics.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias, All Around Athlete
Babe Didrikson Zaharias excelled as an All-American basketball player, a track and field medalist, and a champion golfer so it feels a little unfair to imagine her in yet another sport. But if Zaharias was alive today, we know she would be eager to try something new. After all, she turned every activity into an opportunity to play. Take her chores, for example. When her mother asked her to scrub the floors, she strapped brushes to her feet and skated around the kitchen like a figure skater. It’s probably no surprise that we’re imagining Babe Didrikson Zaharias competing in figure skating this winter, glittery costume and all. We have a feeling Zaharias would be asking “What’s next?” as soon as her event is over.
Bruce Lee, Martial Artist
We all know Bruce Lee as a master of martial arts, but what if his quest for greatness didn’t end there? Lee was an incredibly dedicated athlete, spending hours mastering complicated dance moves so that he could incorporate them into his martial arts routines. Lee also had a love of aerial routines, jumping from incredible heights to get the perfect cinematic kick. If Bruce Lee was still alive today, we’d love to see him give ski jumping a try, a sport that relies on the speed of skiing and the martial arts-adjacent thrill of jumping.