Wizolympics 2020: Aerial Jousting

Carried down from the medieval tournaments of old, aerial jousting is a sport with a noble tradition requiring speed, strength, agility, and creativity. The element of surprise can make all the difference. Aerial jousting is also one of the most dangerous events in the Wizolympics. Serious injuries are to be expected, and casualties are not uncommon. We have Healers on standby prepared for every eventuality.

I’m Hypatia Shilling-Shaw, and I’m on the scene at Kahaku Dome, where things are about to get underway. The 30-foot-high barrier stretches across the stadium, awaiting the flyers who will approach from either side and attempt to unseat each other. This sport takes guts, or foolhardiness, or some combination thereof, which makes it such a thrill to watch. Here come our fearless competitors, prepared to crash into whatever comes their way. They’ve been instructed to wear Bubble-Head Charms due to the contact nature of the sport and the current health advisory.

Finland’s Jenni Oja sported a suit of spikes in 2016, and this year, it’s her broom that’s spiked. The tip is sharpened to a deadly point, daring anyone to approach. Yussef Ahmed of Egypt comes full speed ahead, determined to angle himself appropriately to knock her off her broom without being impaled on the tip, but no! At the last second, he chickens out and swerves to avoid Oja, sending her into the next round.

Adam Whitney is wearing a huge, billowing American flag cape – serving an aerodynamic purpose or purely for show? His opponent, Michi Komatsuzaki of Japan, has opted for a full suit of samurai armor. It looks heavy and uncomfortable, but it might offer some necessary protection. In Rio, Komatsuzaki failed in his modern approach of riding an enchanted vacuum cleaner. Perhaps today’s historical approach will serve him better in his home country.

Whitney and Komatsuzaki collide and get caught in a scuffle midair. It looks like the Japanese flyer has become entangled in Whitney’s cape. A mixture of gasps, cheers, boos, and laughter emanates from the audience, slightly muffled by their Bubble-Head Charms. The two athletes are punching, kicking, and tugging at each other, and neither can seem to knock the other out of the air without getting dragged down too. We’ve just heard a loud ripping sound – as Whitney attempted to pull away, the cape was torn from his shoulders, sending him flying off his broom and leaving Komatsuzaki still astride his own, neatly wrapped in the flag like a burrito with his arms pinned to his sides by the tightly wound fabric. Whitney’s patriotism may have been his downfall.

Yana Peeters of Belgium tends to rely on brute strength, but perhaps anticipating danger after being kicked off her broom by Oja in 2016, she’s wearing extensive padding over her bulging muscles. She doesn’t plan to be caught off guard this time! She’s up against Dragos Dalca of Romania, who nearly won in 2016 by riding an entire tree into the final round, only to fall off during his victory lap when the roots were caught in the Quidditch hoops. He’s looking to redeem himself after his ambition and pride hurt him last time. His usual yellow robes are nearly blinding.

Using her traditional lance, Peeters charges at Dalca, and it’s a hit! But what’s this? Dalca is hanging off his boom but doesn’t fall – perhaps some skillful legwork? The judges are going to inspect. Aha, an illegal Permanent Sticking Charm! Dalca enchanted his robes to remain attached to his broom! A chorus of boos from the crowd. Truly disappointing to see this from him. Romania is disqualified, and Belgium advances.

Last up in the first round are Kenya’s Nyota Njenga and Peru’s Diego Villanueva. Njenga carries a beautifully painted Maasai shield as depicted on Kenya’s flag. They speed toward each other, bracing for impact, and Njenga whacks Villanueva with her shield and sends him tumbling from his broom. That’s gotta hurt!

Oja and Komatsuzaki face off next, and he is impaled on the sharpened tip of her broom, hanging from the end until she slides him off like a roasted marshmallow! Luckily, it looks like his armor stopped the broom from sticking him too deep, and he should be okay once the Healers get to him. Finland advances to the final.

It’s Kenya versus Belgium now. Peeters’s lance breaks against Njenga’s shield and Peeters is down and out!

It’s down to the Kenyan newcomer and the Finnish veteran. Njenga comes in riding her broom like a Muggle surfboard – excellent balance even while holding her enormous shield. She swats Oja’s sharp broom aside, and Oja makes a jump for the shield, but Njenga anticipates this and drops it, sending Oja and the shield down together. Njenga surfs her broom to victory and takes the Galleon for Kenya, while Finland’s Oja gets the Sickle.

A rather slow consolation joust between the injured Komatsuzaki and Peeters awards the Knut to Komatsuzaki for a successful helmeted headbutt (or maybe he lost consciousness and just fell forward onto Peeters at the right angle). Thanks for joining us for this exciting day of aerial jousting!

 

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Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.

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