Ginny Weasley here, and what I have to report to you is quite hard to believe. But as per the Daily Prophet’s maxim, I am committed to giving you the news as it is!
“You are the superior teams and have rightfully risen above the rest,” the Snowball Fighting judge, Vladimir Golubov, began this morning. The audience at Firebird Stadium seemed to hang on his every word, and he was clearly enjoying the attention. “Iceland and Peru – your teams have done exceptionally well. I can’t say that I am surprised… what will happen when these two powerhouse teams go head to head? Am I right, folks?” he continued in this vein for a while.
Several minutes later: “But now! It is time for the final round. The competing teams will face off in a standard Muggle snowball match. No magic, just snow. Begin!”
The crowd roared, for they probably expected to watch grown men and women play Snudgeboll. But what they got was really nothing like Snudgeboll at all.
The teams of five ran around and threw clumps of snow at each other, but with no clear way to score or win points – for judge Golubov had once again failed to explain the rules – their snowball fighting was largely aimless.
“No, no, no!” he roared, walking back onto the field in a rage. “You’re not doing it right – you’re supposed to try to incapacitate one another! How can you expect to do so with those pathetic tosses?”
Right in this moment, a snowball hit him square in the nose, and he doubled up with pain.
“That’s it!” he screamed suddenly to the heavens. “Both teams are disqualified. If neither team can play the sport, neither team can expect to win.”
Upon hearing this, the crowd unleashed a resounding boo.
And then something incredible happened.
There was a large rumbling sound, and suddenly the whole of Firebird Stadium was shaking. Then the audience’s boos gave way to cries of fright.
It was the Pogrebins. There must have been thousands of them. They came over the walls and tumbled onto the pitch, and soon I noticed a man was riding upon the wave of these creatures. It was none other than Barnabas Cuffe!
Looking dazed and very dirty, Cuffe rolled off the Pogrebins, stomped onto the field, and marched right up to judge Golubov. He amplified his voice and yelled thus to the crowd:
“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Barnabas Cuffe, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Prophet! This man…” – he pointed at Golubov, who was attempting to quiet him – “Hold on. HOLD ON, SIR, I WILL HAVE MY WORD!” Cuffe bellowed, and Golubov fell silent as the amplified voice echoed off the stadium walls.
“Two days ago, this man here disqualified me from the Wizolympics. What does that mean? I’ll tell you what it means. It means he beckoned the many Pogrebins you see around you to capture me and remove me from the grounds.” The audience seemed to listen to him with bated breath, many of them already familiar with his voice from the Prophet. He went on even more loudly, “I lived with the Pogrebins in their lair for two days. And I have learned a great deal from them. At first, they did this man’s bidding, but now they do mine.”
At his last word, the Pogrebins quickly launched onto Golubov and held him tight, though he struggled. The audience yelped in fear. “No! Do not fear the Pogrebins. They are sweet and gentle creatures – misunderstood!” – the Pogrebins let loose a piercing cry. “They don’t really want to eat us, not all the time, anyway. This man used to control them using their own fear against them. I, on the other hand, have earned their respect.” The dark creatures collectively nodded in assent.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Barnaby went on, “I submit to you that this man is a fraud and that, for his mistreatment of these competing teams, of mine own person, and – most important of all – the very competition passed down by our noble Grecian forebears, he should be disqualified from the Wizolympics!”
At this, a great roar erupted from the crowd in agreement.
“But… you can’t do this!” Golubov yelled from his Pogrebin encasement.
“Indeed, I can. Creeeee – Kak!” Barnaby Cuffe screamed, and the Pogrebins released Vladimir Golubov. “Take him to the lair and lock him in there with Jim the Dementor… they should get along quite nicely.” The creatures eagerly beckoned Golubov to follow them out of the stadium, and he solemnly relented. Cuffe turned to address the audience and the teams.
“Well. This is a bit awkward now! Well, without the judge, I’d have to say there’s only one way to settle this final round…” He took a deep breath. “WHO’S READY FOR SNUDGEBOLL!?”
The game was a pleasure after that, and the crowd loved it. Peru’s Danielle Rojas was able to dip under Iceland’s Arnaldur Benediktsson’s flailing arms in the last stretch of the game to stuff snow down his pants, winning 100 points for Peru and, in effect, the game.
Despite the chaotic tournament, Peru was awarded the gold medal. I am also happy to report that Barnaby Cuffe is now safe, getting some rest, and will be returning to cover the Avalanching Final later in the Wizolympics.
From Firebird Stadium in Sochi, Russia,
-Ginevra Weasley, Senior Contributor for Games and Sports at the Daily Prophet