Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Horse-drawn Ski Racing Was Almost An Olympic Sport

Skijoring is a Norwegian word that roughly translates as ski driving, or driving on skis; its taken from kjring, which means driving, and ski, which means ski. As you can clearly see from the video, the sport of skijoring requires balance, agility, a talent for ring-grabbing, and a love for classic guitar-driven rock 'n' roll. In 2009 the Boston Globe reported that, these days, a typical course runs 1,000 feet and features 12 slalom gates, six jousting rings that a skier must grab, and three ramp-like jumps ranging from 2-6 feet in height." So, basically, its skiing meets the rodeo meets Medieval Times . Why isnt this on every network in America? Skijoring began in Norway in the 19th century as a way to speed the transmission of army dispatches, according to E. John B. Allen in The Culture and Sport of Skiing . It soon grew popular in many parts of the world among people with daredevil spirits and unfettered access to draft animals and rope. Horsemanship was one of the aristocracys remaining differences from the urban masses, so the appeal of skijoring was a natural one, writes Allen. Children were pulled by dog and pony, British officers in India tried it behind a yak, Sami behind reindeer, and men from the industrial world behind motorcycle, car, and even airplane. Competitive skijoring was included in the Nordic Games a nationalistic celebration of cold-weather sport that was the predecessor to the Winter Olympicsin the first decade of the 20th century, where it caught the eye of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics. Coubertin was a fan of weird sports with militaristic overtoneshe invented the modern pentathlon , a Summer Olympic event involving gunplay and horsemanship, as a test of skill for cavalry officersso his appreciation for skijoring came as no big surprise. He expressed his hope that there might one day be room for skijoring in the Olympic Games. (Coubertin was not a huge fan of non-horse-drawn skiing, apparently. According to an essay in The Olympics at the Millennium , he thought downhill skiing was hardly a sport to uphold his Olympic ideals of international peace and reconciliation shrouded under the auspices of antiquity. I shudder to think what he would say about ice dancing.) Coubertin eventually got his wish, as skijoring was made an Olympic demonstration sport at the St. Moritz Games, in 1928. These were the days when getting towed on skis by horses and/or dogs was a primary mode of transportation for much of the world, and yet only seven people competed in the mass-start skijoring event. And it was sort of boring. (Skiboring, you might say.) The event, which was held on a frozen lake, included no jumps or slalomsjust seven dudes on skis getting pulled behind riderless horses. When the race was concluded, apparently no one even bothered to write down the victors first names .
For the original version visit http://www.slate.com/blogs/five_ring_circus/2014/02/18/skijoring_horse_drawn_ski_racing_was_almost_an_olympic_sport.html

Monday, February 17, 2014

being Confident At Networking Events

If the idea of business networking sounds about as pleasant to you as doing your taxes, you are not alone. Many of us dread the act of networking because it simply goes against our instincts. We are raised to think that we should not talk to strangers, and as we grow older, we come to expect a proper introduction by a third party when we meet someone for the first time. Business networking takes away this safety net; you must introduce yourself to strangers yourself, and do so with confidence. Confidence: this is truly key. Here are six tips on how to exude confidence while you are networking at business events.

1. Do a little bit of homework. Before you attend a business-networking event, see if you can find out a little bit about the other individuals who are attending. This can help to give you a comfortable ice breaker, such as the topic of a football team from an individual's home town. You may even be able to find out something about the attendees' personal interests. If you can't find out anything specific, read up on current events. A popular current event serves as a good conversation starter. Just steer clear of anything that tends to be super controversial. Look for cheerful news or interesting and funny stories, such as coverage of the annual national ugly dog pageant.

2. Get to the event early. This gives you the opportunity to warm up slowly as people gradually arrive. It is a lot easier than thrusting yourself into the center of a large group of folks who are already talking and mingling. And, although it may be way out of your comfort zone, go alone. If you're introverted, you may be tempted to bring a friend. But if you go alone, you are more likely to actually network rather than just relying on your buddy.

3. Approach people who have empty plates in their hands. Or, if there is a buffet, hang out close to it. Food is a natural pleasure delivery system, and it raises our endorphin levels. So people are likely to be more receptive to your conversation starter if they've just had a bite to eat.

4. Be the best dressed person in the room. Dressing well is an instant confidence booster, so make sure your outfit is well-tailored. The shoulder seam on your shirt should hit your actual shoulder, not the top of your arm. Your should be snug and clean, not sloppily yanked to one side. If you want to include an easy conversation starter in your outfit, wear a tie with an interesting pattern or a bright pocket square. Clothing items are good attention getters, and people are more likely to approach you if your outfit includes something eye-catching.

5. Politely approach people who are standing alone. It's likely that loners have a little bit of anxiety about networking, like you, and could even be feeling a bit awkward standing alone. They are likely to be very grateful when you take the initiative to approach them.

6. Set a specific goal for yourself. If you set a concrete and measurable goal for yourself, you are much more likely to measure the event as a success once the networking event is over. For example, bring 6 business cards, and decide ahead of time how you want to introduce yourself to people. Once you have introduced yourself to six individuals and given them your business cards, you are finished. You can reward yourself for meeting your business networking goal.