483 ½ Wizolympics – Day 15 Update: Ice Course Qualifying Round
With the Wizolympics winding down, we head into one of our final events: the Ice Course. Easily one of the most watched sports due to the multitude of magic displayed, crowds have gathered in the thousands to watch. The arena you see before you has been transformed into a frozen tundra maze. Our six individuals will traverse across the ice at the same time, hoping to make it to the end before the other competitors. As they attempt to exit the maze, the semifinalists will face creatures of varying degrees of danger and be expected to use their magical skill to pass them. Some of these creatures will be frozen in blocks of ice, and the competitors will be forced to battle them to move forward. Others may come straight from the frigid waters below the ice. Starting from different points, the first four individuals to make it to the center of the maze will advance to the finals later this evening.
The Wizolympics committee would like to thank Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions for designing and crafting the robes our competitors are wearing. Each robe accents the colors of each country’s flag, and they are magnificent indeed. The competitors are making their way to their designated starting points around the maze, all equidistant from the maze’s center. The creatures they will face are completely random, and only their knowledge and skill will allow them to find their way to the finish line.
There’s Russia’s Radomir Yeltsov and Eniko Csaszar from Hungary across from him at the opposite end. Csaszar has won twice in this category, placing gold both times he’s competed. I spoke with him earlier, and he is excited for the chance to go for his third gold medal. Also hoping to catch a glimpse of a medal are China’s Nuan Zhou, the UK’s Abbey Blackwood, the US’s Tommy Crawford, and first-time Ice Course Wizolympian Benjamin Hadley from South Africa. He beat out five other hopefuls from his country to win his place, including two-time silver medal winner Akhona Macklam.
This is it, everyone! Our competitors are restless, holding their wands in hand. That’s the sound of the cannon, and there they go. Bolting ahead down the first path of the maze is Abbey Blackwood. Quick turn left, then right. She’s come to an immediate stop, almost slipping on the ground. There appears to be a large block of ice in the middle of the path.
That seems to have been ineffective. The block of ice appears to have had the Gemino Jinx placed upon it, now a pile of five blocks of ice.
That’s done it! The ice now a puddle, Blackwood continues on. Where’s her creature? Oh, wait. There’s a small army of Fire Crabs a few feet in front of her.
“Flipendo! Impedimenta! Flipendo! Impedimenta! Flipendo! Impedimenta!”
Blackwood has made quick work of her Fire Crabs, knocking them on their backs by targeting their weak undersides. Csaszar has just come to his first obstacle.
Quite impressive magic! Only one blast broke the ice apart. What’s that on the ground? It looks like a Runespoor. With not one but three heads, this is no ordinary snake. The heads tend to fight with each other, which they are doing right now. The left head is hissing at the right, urging him forward. The middle snake looks dazed. Oh! The right head just lunged at Csaszar. He needs to be exceptionally careful. The right head’s fangs are highly venomous.
“Sssssssssaaaasssss seeehesss salassaaawassss…”
He’s speaking Parseltongue! Is that permitted in the Ice Course? The judges are allowing it. Seems an unfair advantage to me. The Runespoor is slithering aside for Csaszar to pass, and he continues on his way.
Zhou is having some difficulty. He broke apart his ice block only to find a Chimaera waiting for him. Whoa! The Chimaera is swinging its dragon tail erratically, passing inches from Zhou’s face. Ooh! Zhou wasn’t focused on the tail coming back around and has been knocked unconscious. Trainers have stormed in to the retrieve the Chimaera, and the mediwizards are removing Zhou from the maze.
Tommy Crawford of the US is flying through the maze, successfully making it through a horde of Doxies and a Fwooper. He had a slight setback when the Fwooper’s song boggled his brain, driving him slowly insane. With great effort, he managed to cast the Silencing Charm on the bird and continued on with exceptional speed.
He has just received his third ice block. Oh, this is not going to be easy. A sphinx is his next task. He can choose to forfeit or answer her riddle, but if he answers wrong, she’ll attack.
We still have five competitors left and only four spots in the finals. Csaszar and Blackwood have made it to the center of the maze, so Hungary and the UK will compete again later tonight. Hadley is feet from the center and is trying to figure out a way around his Graphorn. With two sharp horns and greyish-purple skin that’s tougher than dragon scales, Graphorns are highly dangerous and difficult to defeat. Every spell Hadley has cast has been rendered ineffective, and he’s becoming desperate. That was clever thinking. Hadley used the icy terrain to his advantage and has managed to slide on his stomach underneath the Graphorn and make it to the center, claiming a third spot in the finals.
It’s between Crawford and Yeltsov now. Yeltsov has come upon not a block of ice but a hole, leading down into the depths of the icy water. Did something just pop its head out of the water? Was that a kelpie? It is! For those of you who don’t know, a kelpie is a Japanese, shape-shifting water demon that usually takes the form of a horse, as this one has. That was a good attempt by Yeltsov, but his Placement Charm missed the kelpie, and now he has sat down on the edge of the hole and is now on his back. The kelpie is drawing him closer. It has once again surfaced and… grabbed the collar of his robes and is dragging him underwater! Where are the officials? The crowd is screaming. An official had taken hold of Yeltsov’s foot before it went below the surface and is now playing a sort of tug-o-war with the kelpie… he’s got a good grip on Yeltsov. The kelpie has finally released him, and they are taking him for immediate treatment of hypothermia.
There goes Crawford! He correctly answered his riddle and is running the final few yards to the center where the other competitors are waiting. One more turn. There it is, witches and wizards! Tommy Crawford of the US has snatched the remaining spot in the Ice Course finals. Tune in tonight to see who will take the gold. What a Wizolympics this is turning out to be!
-Arabella Featherman, Daily Prophet reporter