“You don’t bring a flapjack to a pancake fight.” — Some Guy
Contestants and observers, veterans and newbies, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, and one knitter…
… showed up for the fourth annual Great Hilton Beijing Pancake Race last night.
The competition was fierce. Canadian / long-term Beijing resident / first flipper Richard Liu called the course “exhausting” and word has it he injured three Caknuckles and strained his Moose Jaw. Hardly surprising. While observers enjoyed ten-kuai pancakes, Chimay and Warsteiner, this is what the contestants faced:
It starts innocently enough, with a schmoozy interview and questions like, “What kind of frying pan do you prefer,” “What’s your favorite pancake topping?” and “You do have health and life insurance, right? Right!?”
And there is that heart-warming moment when contestants do a few practice flips. “Look, a soft perfectly round pancake flying in the air! How nice!” (Note: He calls this move, “Flip to my Liu”.)
Then it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire with “the hoops of death”. Here Matt Wong of Two Guys and a Pie hurtles along that perilous course and, at the end, through a luggage cart. (Note: Wong said that if he dropped a pancake on the course and had to pick it up off the floor — if! — no one should assume that is what they do with pies at the shop. Don’t assume. Don’t judge!)
Next, jumping rope. Ten times. While holding a lava hot frying pan with a pancake that is less edible and more unstable by the second.
Next, one of the two hardest events: throwing ping pong balls into beer glasses and hoops on beer bottles. It’d be easier to put a diaper made of raw meat on a famished lion having a bad hair day. Wait, what am I talking about? It’s Year of the Snake! It’d be easier to tie a pair of greased bowling shoes on an angry drunk nonathletic cobra with fashion sense.
Next, a run outside in the parking lot. I daren’t follow.
Next, the other of the two hardest tasks: hula hoop on the check-in desk. Little known rule: Should a guest show up, the contestant must slip off a shoe and use his / her toes to check the person in on the computer. Time consuming!
Next, riding a stationary bicycle while flipping a pancake. Sound easy? It’s kind of like rubbing your tummy while patting your head. While being tasered. While standing in a pool full of water. Dirty hutong toilet water. Full of piranha that are angry at living in a hutong toilet. (Who wouldn’t be angry at that?) That haven’t eaten for three weeks. Not so easy now, is it?
Next, squeezing through a hula hoop while holding a frying pan that, in many cases, has a pancake that’s spent more time on the floor than a newly arrived class of American language students on its first night out at a rmb20 all-you-can-drink Wudaokou dive, but that isn’t quite so dirty.
Finally, make like Messi, if he played football while flipping a pancake, which he doesn’t, so how good can he really be? That’s it, that’s what you need to do better than everyone else to be a pancake race champion when you step up to the hot plate at the Beijing Hilton.
And while everyone wants a place on that podium…
There is only one winner.