The first thing we do, in fact, is clamor up to an ice slide. All you get is a thin plastic shovel-like seat and a hefty push by the Chinese guy at the top. Suddenly, you’re shrieking like a banshee and praying you don’t fly over the side of the ice blocks. At the end, when you slow down, the guy pulls you off the sled before someone else comes down and kills you on impact. He pulls me off the luge, and he wasn’t anticipating how much dead weight I was, and nearly went flying into the ice sled run.
Afterwards, we are supposed to watch the brilliant ice-swimming. I’m thinking crazy Olympic champions or something and the pool is the huge lake. Not so. We are ushered into a quickly-constructed pool-area where the water is steaming because it’s that much warmer than the air (frigid). Old men in Speedos finally come out of the dressing area (or rather, undressing area) wearing Nacho Libre-style costumes or looking like an old Roman gladiator. They prance around the pool while people snap pictures (guilty – I mean, who wouldn’t?), play fight, and throw each other into the pool. Not exactly a frat wet t-shirt contest, but entertaining.
The women come out next, also in some interesting costumes. They take turns diving into the pool, and that’s pretty much it for ice-swimming. The maintanence guy goes around the crowd with a shovel full of ice, just so people can see that it is really, really cold. The yelps from the swimmers pretty much solidified it for me, really.
Never would have imagined that geriatrics swimming in a half-frozen pool would be a tourist attraction, but hey, it’s another tick off ye olde bucket list. Sometimes I write things on it just so I can cross them off.