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RetRollSpective – Gliding Glaciers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to focus on the Gliding Glaciers, a team that came out of retirement to compete in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers. Read on to find out how this team has chilled the competition!

The official logo for the Gliding Glaciers, designed by Tim Ritz in collaboration with MightyCucumber.

The Gliding Glaciers hail from an island city by the name of Glidavik, known for its tiny population and large, towering glaciers. Glide, Glidy, Glace, and Glacie grew up as childhood friends and dreamed of scaling the mountains of ice that separated the town from the rest of civilization. Their hunger for adventure was amplified by the stories they were taught in school of adventurers sailing across the world and scaling its highest peaks in search of the unknown, and they all promised each other, in their youth, that they would follow that dream for the rest of their lives.

Knowing this, it’s difficult to imagine why the Gliding Glaciers would ever attempt to qualify for what may be known as the most renowned sports tournament in the world, let alone enter athletics in the first place. Then again, it’s clear that the Glaciers were driven to pursue athletics through their dream to explore the world. All four of the friends attended the University of Snoronto after they graduated high school, where they met Glacier, a history major from Kebearing, a nearby metropolis. Glacier shared the four’s passion for exploration through historical means and became a natural addition to the friend group. The five began hanging out together, training in the same school gym as a marble sports team: the Snowballs.

“We didn’t get along, initially,” recalled Glace. “We had always been in the gym for at least an hour when they started to show up, and they just glared at us.”

The two friend groups became rivals, getting caught up in both academic and athletic competitions. It wasn’t long before the two groups had coalesced against each other—the Snowballs versus the Gliding Glaciers—and decided to hold athletic games and tournaments against each other. Stories of curling matches, bobsled races, ice dashes, and more defined the university’s culture and were covered by local and regional news stations.

“It’s really interesting, because the more we faced off against each other, the lower the stakes felt,” Glide said. “We realized that for all our differences, there was a lot we had in common, and though we didn’t become close, we did start to feel more acquainted.”

The original four members of the team: Glide, Glidy, Glace, and Glacie.

As temperatures started to cool down between the two teams, Jelle Bakker heard about the competition between the Glaciers and the Snowballs—news coverage of the rivalry had spread internationally. Because the Snowballs were leading the series at the time, they received a special invitation to the 2016 Marble League.

“We were a wildcard pick, plain and simple,” Snow stated. “We had to be. There was no way we were that good, even if we were performing well in the college leagues. It’s like we skipped the major and regional leagues of marble sports entirely.”

“We were just as good as the Snowballs. In fact, we won the match right after the Snowballs were invited,” asserted Glidy. “We didn’t really blame them for getting invited, but it felt awkward between the two teams after that.”

Both teams graduated following the Spring 2016 term, ending the rivalry naturally. The Snowballs headed to Knikkegen shortly after for the Marble League, while the Gliding Glaciers headed to Kebearing.

“I had been working on an artificial bobsled track for an engineering course,” Glacier explained. “It was for my core requirement…but I kind of went overboard and commissioned a real version of it.”

The 2021 realization of the Glaciers’ artificial bobsled track.

Throughout the summer, the team worked on finalizing the designs and beginning construction. By the time snow had started to fall, the Glaciers had completed the course, and they planned to celebrate by holding a friendly round. It was then that they were contacted by Jelle.

“Jelle offered to sponsor the tournament and find teams to compete alongside us. We were ecstatic—how could we say no?” recounted Glide. “The Snowballs were eager to compete and accepted, but no other teams responded. The friendly round became an arctic showdown.”

During the showdown between the two teams, the Gliding Glaciers set a world record of 6.588 seconds on their bobsled course, beating the Snowballs by over a second. The match decided the tournament: the Gliding Glaciers won 3-2, winning bragging rights and, more importantly, a provisional qualifying spot in the 2017 Marble League. Unfortunately for the team, their provisional qualifying spot was revoked following a rejection of their application by the full rules committee.

“We initially thought it was because we applied as a five-member team, but it was because our uniforms were too similar to the Jawbreakers’. Honestly, I would have been happy to change our uniforms to get into the Marble League,” Glacie confided.

The Gliding Glaciers face off against the Oceanics in the Halfpipe event of Qualifiers.

As the 2018 Winter Marble League neared, the Gliding Glaciers hoped that they would be selected as the very first hosts of the tournament, but the Snowballs were ultimately chosen for their new stadium, the Arctic Circle. Still, the Glaciers had reason to look forward to the tournament—their application for a qualifying spot had been approved, and this time, reserve members were permitted to compete on the team.

“It felt like everything had come together at last, and now it was time to prove ourselves,” Glidy insisted. “It turned out to be the exact opposite: we fell apart.”

The Gliding Glaciers’ debut in the 2018 Marble League Qualifiers was anything but convincing: with a score of 11 points, the Glaciers were last in their group and failed to qualify. They had, in fact, been mathematically eliminated before the Halfpipe event, and would miss out on a tournament being hosted on the continent across from their hometown of Glidavik.

The team stayed in the stands with the other unqualified teams to watch the main tournament. Although the Snowballs implemented a Bobsled event, they opted to use an outdoor course instead, holding the event outside on their Snowflake Slope.

After the 2018 Winter Marble League, the Gliding Glaciers were invited to participate in all three offseason exhibition events: the Consolation Race, 100 Meter Water Race, and Amazing Maze Marble Race. Glide competed in the first two races, placing dead last in the Consolation Race but third in the 100 Meter Water Race, their best performance yet.

Glide’s bronze medal in the 100 Meter Water Race was thought of as a sign that the best was yet to come. It turned out to be the opposite: their swan song in a mediocre professional sports career.

Glide departed the course feeling conflicted. They were happy that they had finally done so well in an event, and yet…what were they competing for?

“I’d lost sight of what I really wanted to do with my life until I rolled back and realized it. I was shocked at how far I thought I had come but how little I had actually accomplished,” Glide confided. “I wanted to sail oceans and climb mountains, not race across a water channel and climb K’nex scaffolding.”

The Gliding Glaciers announced their retirement from the Marble League, and all marble sports, with their absence from the Amazing Maze Marble Race. When news organizations reached out to the team for questions, their calls were left unanswered for weeks. It was later reported that the team had disbanded entirely but remained friends, and had embarked on an adventure to explore the entirety of their island.

“We ascended to the top of the glacier around our town, and looked beyond the horizon for the first time,” Glace recalled. “The sun was just rising, and we got to see it before any other marble on the island. That was a really cool feeling.”

Glidy looks back on that moment with pride. “That day, we brought our bobsleds and raced down the slopes. It was a thrill that we felt not because we were beating another team, but because we were truly enjoying our lives.”

Since then, the five had not entirely ruled out a return to professional sports, but their efforts were focused elsewhere: they joined the acclaimed travel company, Atlas Marbura, in early 2019. They headed the company’s most remote branch, based in Glidavik, and wrote travel guides for both popular and obscure locations around Marblearth. The company worked with the former JMRC in 2020 in planning and coordinating Stynth’s travels around the world.

The Gliding Glaciers’ Bobsled record was finally broken in 2021 by the O’rangers, with a time of 6.541 seconds.

Later in the year, the former JMRC reached out to the Glidavik branch for a different matter—the artificial bobsled track design from 2016. The five sent the blueprints over, free of charge.

“To be honest, we’re pretty surprised that we still have fans—in fact, we may have more fans now than we did when we were active,” Glacier mused, shrugging. “Life is full of surprises. I guess we’ll see what happens.”

The Climb

an addendum by The Emperor

The original logo for the Gliding Glaciers, designed by MightyCucumber.

The Gliding Glaciers members may have disbanded prior to the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers, but the team would live on. The original team members remained close friends and continued to live their lives to the fullest, free of competition. But Glide had another goal, too. Candy, the captain of the Jawbreakers, had called up Glide shortly after the Marble League Winter Special. The team was planning on retiring and wanted to inform the Glaciers of the news first, as they had been rejected to the Marble League prior to 2018 for having uniforms too similar to the team. Glide thanked Candy for the opportunity to take their place but declined. That is…until an idea sprung into their mind.

The following are excerpts from Glide’s journal, which was taken with them on their journey around the globe in search of new members to continue the Gliding Glaciers name and bring glory to the team while the old members could enjoy their life to the fullest. Glide’s journey was made possible by Atlas Marbura.

Day 1

The first stop on my tour is here in Old Zeldan, a remote island. I have a couple of friends who live on the island that I’ve gone mountain climbing with before, and they have informed me of an aspiring athlete here that could help with my goals. I touched down in the Old Zeldan airport and found the place barren and dry. There were dunes everywhere, with the sea breeze drifting in on the open-air airport. I hailed a taxi cab to my next destination, which would be the headquarters of The Bourne Network’s competitions. 

I managed to meet Speny, the manager of the competition, who showed me around the facility. During this session, I was able to meet Alpine, a member of the Foresters, a prominent team in the competition. I managed to engage in a conversation with them, and they appeared intrigued by my offer. After talking it over with the rest of the Foresters, Alpine agreed to join me and the Gliding Glaciers organization. My next destination is around the globe, all the way to Vanillsinki.

Alpine winning Bronze in the Funnel Race in Speny’s Marble Tournament Season 3.

Day 2

By this time, since Alpine had agreed to my crazy idea, I figured it was time that I let the rest of the team know that I was getting the team together. They all wholeheartedly approved, and Glacie offered to provide a home for the team with their house on Glidavik. I managed to successfully book a ticket to Glidavik for Alpine, and then I took off for Vanillsinki, the home of the Valiant Vanillas. The Valiant Vanillas were a very popular team in the Marble Sports Games, a competition run by the JMA member, The Emperor all the way over in Philamarblia. I was mainly interested in Frost, their star athlete. Frost had won the first-ever Marble Sports Games event and had a very impressive track record. I arrived in Vanillsinki to find the team returning for a short break from the ongoing season, Season 3. Twist had just won the team’s second gold of the season, and the team sits in second halfway through. I managed to meet the whole team, and they were very nice individuals. 

Near the end of our meeting, I sprung the news on Frost. It took them a while to make a decision, which I respect. Frost’s verdict was not one that I was expecting; they said they wanted to join the Glaciers, AND stay on the Valiant Vanillas at the same time. I knew that this would be possible, but it could provide a lot of stress for the teams. The rest of the Vanillas backed Frost, however, and I accepted. Frost had the potential to do both, and I knew better than to doubt them. Tomorrow, it’s time to meet the next candidate, one hailing from a competition in Marblyland.

Frost winning gold in Speed Skating in the Marble Sports Games Season 3 Qualifiers, captured by The Emperor.

Day 3

After booking a ticket to Glidavik for Frost, I booked my next flight with Atlas Marbura, this time to Marblyland. Marblyland is home to one of the JMA members, Orbitball, who hosted a competition by the local beaches. One of the fan-favorite teams from the competition is the Orcas, who hail from a small alcove buried deep underneath the city. These marbles trained in extreme weather conditions day in and out, often underwater, and Polar would be greatly suited to the training heights of the mountains in Glidavik. I managed to meet Orbitball in their stadium by the shore, where they were setting up an Underwater Race event. The Orcas were getting ready to line up in the gates, and after watching their run, I called Polar over. We talked about the local food and diners that they liked to eat at for a bit (apparently they have a bit of a sweet tooth. I’ll have to call up the Jawbreakers to have them settle that). I finally popped my proposal on them, and they agreed to join me and my mission.

That means three members are down, two to go. My next stop is the home of the Green Ducks, all the way up in Bermenghank…

Polar saying farewell to their teammates, captured by Orbitball.

Day 4

I was exhausted after my travels for the previous few days, so I took the day to explore Marblyland a bit. The city had a lot of fine cuisines that I really enjoyed, and relaxing on the coastal beaches was a welcome breath of fresh air. I acquired a cup of hot chocolate and a baguette from a local cafe run by the Lattes, another youth league team participating in the Marble Sports Games. I then booked a hotel for the night and am currently enjoying a relaxing evening, watching re-runs of Marble League 2018.

Day 5

I began the day with an early breakfast, before catching a flight to Bermenghank. I touched down in the northern region, a place that was always covered with snow and had mountains peaking into the clouds. Upon my arrival, I put on my ski jacket and earmuffs. It was cold in Snoronto, but it was frigid in the northern mountains of Bermenghank. The locals appeared to have adapted to the cold however and didn’t seem to be bothered. I took the ski lift up to the resort above, which was run by the Icebergs, a popular team in the region run by SuperJackJack, who ran the local competition the Marble Games. The Icebergs ran the ski resort above, and I was greeted happily by Iceberg, who was the member I most wanted to meet. Iceberg had a good history in the competition and had a winning personality and mindset. And that’s the kind of athlete that I was looking for. Iceberg accepted my proposition and promised that the rest of the team would be there in the fan section to support the Glaciers.

Arctic of the Arctics, Iceberg of the Icebergs, and I, Glide, in the Ski Resort, depicted by SuperJackJack.

Day 6

My final stop on my agenda was Sheetersburg, a city in the frigid region of Rollsia. This last marble had caught my eye for different reasons than the others. Recommended by their cousin, Sheev, Sheet was no ordinary marble. They weren’t the best athlete or student, but Sheet was one of the kindest and nicest marbles that I had ever met. Every marble in the region knew of Sheet and their kindness; how they could always lend a helping hand and be counted on for support. I managed to meet Sheet in the sleet on Beet Street (and yes that was intentional. They insisted.) in front of the luxurious Sheetersburg Palace, home of the royal family. Sheet offered me a slice of cake as we sat in the snow, sleet pounding our heads. We talked about the snowy weather for a little while, before I asked Sheet if they would join me on the Glaciers. Sheet looked around, pondering for a little bit, but they accepted. Now, I had my full roster. I called up Atlas Marbura and scheduled my final flight of the journey, and Sheet and I are headed to Glidavik now. It’s time to get the band together!

Sheet (right) and Glide (left) in Sheetersburg, depicted by The Emperor.

End of Journal.

Sheet and Glide returned to Glidavik and found the rest of the team members in Glacie’s cabin, drinking hot cocoa and watching a rerun of the Raceforest Grand Prix. The team was cheering on the Snowballs, who would finish the race in fifth. Glide’s crazy dream of recruiting a new Gliding Glaciers team was coming to fruition. Alpine, Frost, Polar, Iceberg, and Sheet. Everything was coming together. Glace offered to manage the team’s finances and travel, of which Glide accepted without a second thought.

“It’s gonna be great!” Glidy said as the rest of the team trained on the steep mountains of Glidavik. “We’ve been contacted by the Minty Maniacs, they want us to compete in an exhibition tournament in Herbotamia to test the new team out! We’re gonna get a feel for the competition here, and hopefully, our crazy dream will work!”

Early in the morning of 13 April 2021, the Gliding Glaciers boarded their Atlas Marbura plane to Herbotamia, where they would be participating in the Herbotamia Invitational. They started off with a bronze medal in Balancing, losing to Team Plasma and the Solar Flares, who won the event. Then, in a stunning upset win, Frost managed to win the Funnel Endurance event, putting the Glaciers in second overall. Sheet continued the Glaciers’ domination with their third consecutive medal, this time a silver.

“I’m quite shocked, to say the least.” An exhausted Sheet stated in the locker room. “I didn’t really have such high expectations for myself, but I’m very pleased to have delivered a solid result for myself, and for the team!”

Somehow, the Glaciers were still only TIED for first, even with 3 medals. The Solar Flares had replicated their successes with one medal each of their own. The Glaciers would stamp their authority on the rest of the field, winning their fourth medal in a row, this time a silver. Somehow, even with these four medals, the Glaciers would not win the tournament, as they would place fifth in the final event, the Minty Mania GP, and finish the tournament one point behind the Solar Flares.

The final standings of the Herbotamia Invitational. Table designed by Stynth; team logos designed by foucaulf (Solar Flares), MightyCucumber (Gliding Glaciers, Yarble Yellers, Team Plasma, Grape Nuts, Black Jacks, Valiant Violets), and BHG+JMR (Balls of Flame).

At the conclusion of the tournament, Jelle Bakker, the organizer of the Marble League, approached Glide with an envelope. “Today was a historic day for everyone involved, and these teams showed the passion of champions,” remarked Jelle. “These envelopes contain the prize for each of the two teams, and I bet they will enjoy this. Congratulations to both the Solar Flares and Gliding Glaciers, you both will have the opportunity to compete in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers! We will see you in Felynia!”

That same day, JMR officially announced that the Gliding Glaciers were coming out of retirement to compete in the Qualifiers. The Glaciers replaced the Jawbreakers, who were completely retiring from marble sports, in Group A. For the first time in four years, the team would be competing against the Snowballs for a qualifying spot in the Marble League.

“We’re so thrilled to be competing in the main league this year!” Iceberg said, blushing. “I’ve always dreamed of competing in the Marble League, and we’re gonna give the qualifiers our all!”

In RetRollSpective, the Gliding Glaciers’ new team members might not have bonded as much as they’d have like to, but they froze the competition in the Herbotamia Invitational and caught the eyes of Jelle themself. We can expect the new team to continue their domination soon. Best of luck to the Gliding Glaciers in the near future, keep on rolling!


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