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March 1, 2010 2:42 PM

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Snow Ball: Frick's Winter Olympics

Champions of the Wife-Carry Event.photo by Steve Eichner Attending a black-tie gala is about as close as I get to competing in a sports event. There's the training (not eating, the better to fit into dresses sized for eight-year-olds)....

Champions of the Wife-Carry Event.
photo by Steve Eichner
Attending a black-tie gala is about as close as I get to competing in a sports event. There's the training (not eating, the better to fit into dresses sized for eight-year-olds). The pregame ritual (copious amounts of concealer, applied in the fluorescent lighting of the office bathroom). And the event itself (hours in heels; more smiling and waving than a beauty pageant; small talk as stimulating as a Miley Cyrus movie). Those Olympic athletes think they had it rough?

Well, one thing they didn't have -- at least in its natural state -- was snow. I, on the other hand, was fortunate enough to have the annual Frick Collection's Young Fellows Ball coincide with a full-on blizzard last Thursday night. There are few greater pleasures in life than tackling six inches of freezing precipitation in open-toed stilettos and bare legs.

To be fair, I was lucky enough to have a driver for the night, courtesy of my kind editor. So unlike those poor souls searching for a cab at 9 p.m. as flurries threatened to ruin their hair and makeup, I had Vinny, who waited patiently as my doorman practically carried me over a thigh-high pile of snow so I could reach the vehicle. His lift move would certainly have earned him top marks in Vancouver.

As Vinny and I made our way slowly down Fifth Avenue, I wondered if those whose employment did not require their attendance at the Frick would actually make the trek. I had my answer as we approached 70th Street. A snake of bumper-to-bumper Town Cars, taxis and SUVs was very slowly making its way towards the museum's doors.

A few intrepid girls, some in long gowns, got out of their cars many feet before the entrance and I wondered at their superhuman abilities. Clearly, I had not trained adequately. Then I saw their feet. Uggs. The most onomatopoeic footwear ever designed. But still, a clever move: change shoes in the museum.

Having neither such foresight nor podiatric aesthetic tolerance, I waited to cross the makeshift bridge event planners had concocted (read: a rickety plank) between the street and the snow-covered sidewalk.

Once inside, I was overwhelmed by the sheer determination of the party's attendees. The check-in table was four people deep; the coat check bore witness to many of the Ugg contingent changing into their strappy sandals, and there was little sign anyone found donning diaphanous dresses in such inclement weather remotely frustrating. The Frick's courtyard was as packed as it has been in recent years. What gives?

"It's the New York mentality," said Valentino publicist Grace Cha. "Throw whatever you want at us. We'll still make it."

"I was actually sad it snowed tonight," said Lauren Santo Domingo. "Normally, I would use it as an excuse not to go out, but I love this party."

There were some casualties to the evening. Carolina Herrera's Jennifer Williams had worn flats on the streets to protect her neck, while her legs suffered.

"My tights got soaked," she lamented of her opaque hosiery.

It seemed a small price to pay in most guests' minds, judging from the jovial mingling in the galleries and the grinding on the dance floor.

But perhaps the best barometer of the event's success was the dwindling supplies at the various bars dotting the courtyard's perimeter.

"I'm out of Champagne," said one bartender at 10:30 p.m., a good hour and a half before the ball's end time.

Let those athletes have their Wheaties. We have our own breakfast of champions.
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