Rickter Scale: The stuff of legends

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

Some people’s passion for sports borders on an obsession that can race in leaps and bounds into the realms of psychosis.

Others, on the other hand, find the concept of watching athletic competitions of any kind as enjoyable as finding a parking ticket tucked under the wiper blade on your windshield.

Whether you prefer to root, root, root for the home team or choose to completely dismiss that kind of blather, there are some athletic achievements that deserve our unbridled accolades and applause, even if limited to the confines of this column.

No one will ever reign supreme over the world of sports like a nimble little Norwegian named Sonja Henie, who earned her first Norwegian championship when she was 10.

February 22 marked the anniversary of Henie’s 10th consecutive world figure skating championship, an incredible run she began in 1927 at the ripe old age of 14.

Henie pirouetted to three Olympic gold medals along the way in 1928, ‘32 and ‘36. For those more enamoured by the performing arts should note that Henie went on to become one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses after she hung up her blades for good.

Then there’s David Ayres, the 42-year-old Zamboni driver and part-time practice goalie who added his name to the record book for an unbelievable performance between the pipes, once again on that 22nd day of the second month.

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Ayres did what no backup goalie had ever done before when he was called on to play during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after injuries felled the two goalies who had dressed for the Carolina Hurricanes that night.

Who can imagine what must have raced through his mind as he scrambled to get his gear on.

Although Ayres gave up goals on the first two shots he faced, he settled down and secured the win. Not bad for a guy playing with a kidney he borrowed from his mother.

The fact it happened against the Leafs in Toronto sweetened the feat for fans of every other team.

More recently, a young man from Ottawa turned in a run for the ages at the National Football League combine.

His time of 4.79 in the 40-yard sprint is a little less than a half-second off the warp speed of the fastest running backs in the league. Neville Gallimore, however, tipped the scales at 304 pounds as he rumbled down the track, which adds considerably more weight to the defensive lineman’s accomplishment.

And then there was the eight-year-old quarterback for the Saint Laurent Spartans who threw the only forward pass his team attempted in 1958.

Although he nailed a five-yard completion for a first down, the coach benched him for having the gall to draw up his own play in the huddle, and he was unceremoniously shuffled off to play on defence for the rest of the season.

All these years later though, I can still see our halfback hauling in my perfect spiral in front of a handful of spectators shivering in the bleachers on that cold autumn Saturday. To this day the stuff of legends, if only in my mind alone.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

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