As long as there are summer Olympics, there will never be a summer Olympics in Phoenix. But while the Games continue to elude the Valley, Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter Nick Hysong makes Arizona the center of his sport's pre-Athens universe at 5 p.m. Friday, May 14, when the fifth annual Sky Invite hits the ground running at Paradise Valley Community College, 18401 North 32nd Street. Hysong, who's organizing the event, and fellow Olympic gold medalist/world record holder Stacy Dragila compete against other Athens hopefuls, including U.S. record holder Jeff Hartwig, reigning indoor champion Toby Stevenson, and 1998 U.S. outdoor champ Kellie Suttle.
"It's a chance for people to come and see who's going to be on the Olympic [pole vault] team," says Hysong, a Tolleson High grad and native Arizonan. More important, it's a warm-up for the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials in Sacramento, July 9 through 18.
For more information, visit www.skyathletics.com. -- Joe Watson
Barrel O' Fun
Horse around in North Scottsdale
You city folk may not know it, but Phoenix is cowboy country. So get off your high horse and mosey on down to Arizona Horse Lovers Park, 19224 North Tatum, on Wednesday, May 19, for "Barrel Basics 101." Learn barrel racing from the director of central Arizona's chapter of the National Barrel Horse Association, Suzanne Barnes. The free lesson covers tips on proper hand usage and explains just what in tarnation "rate" and the "pocket" are. An automatic laser timer will track each rider's progress. The lesson, 6 to 9 p.m., is limited to 25 riders. Call 602-534-4656 to register. -- Joe Watson
Controlling the Airwaves
RC model airplanes take flight at Speedworld Motorplex
Yes, you do hear a buzzing. Catch the excitement as Speedworld RC Flyers host a Q500 radio-controlled model airplane race at the West Valley's Speedworld Motorplex, Highway 60 and Happy Valley Road, on Saturday, May 15. The public event, starting at 9:30 a.m., features up to five rounds of competition between local club members flying Quickie 500 aircraft in both Arizona Pylon Racing Association (APRA) and Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) classes. The Q500 aircraft, including any number of models that conform to the specific rules of this "stock" class, flies at up to 170 mph around a three-pylon course of 10 laps -- a total of 2.5 miles. Admission is free; spectators are welcome to bring their own refreshments and water. For more information or a map to the event site, see www.speedworldrcf.com. -- Matthew Roy