Rudolph a no-show as Santa opens training camp

North Pole – Training camp opened today for Santa and his reindeer with a notable exception. Rudolph, the star of last year’s Christmas, is said to be holding out for a better deal. “My client single handedly saved Christmas last year. Without him there’s no way Santa would have made it through North America before the clock ran out. He just wants to be fairly compensated,” said his agent Bill Elfling. Reports from inside the front office are that Rudolph is looking for a two-hundred-year deal said to be worth somewhere between eight and one hundred million pounds of lichen.

Elsewhere, several newcomers have been spotted in camp, including Gary Blitzen Junior, son of the famed and now deceased original member of Santa’s sleigh team. A five-tool reindeer, his speed, strength, antler girth, hoof power and fur make him a truly special reindeer. Scouts project him to be a Christmas Eve starter in his dad’s old position, just behind Vixen.

Fresh off his So You’re an Animal and you Can Dance win, Prancer is striking a confident tone for this year’s season. “I think this will be our strongest season yet. We’ve got an amazing group of reindeer and Santa is more focused and determined than ever before. Also, yes, I am dating my dance partner, Lindsay Twinkletoes.”

Several fights have broken out as many of the younger reindeer are still in Rut mode from earlier in the year.

The team has hired a new head trainer. Rhonda McElf will become the first female head trainer of a major holiday team. She was previously part of the Easter Bunny’s training staff and is credited with helping the bunny regain his hop after falling victim to a shotgun blast three Easter’s ago. “I don’t see myself as a female trainer, I’m a trainer, plain and simple,” said Rhonda as she strolled through the reindeer locker room completely oblivious to the fact that none of them were wearing any pants.

The usual questions of retirement were asked of Santa during his press conference after the year’s first practice and as usual Santa blew them off as nothing but rumor and innuendo. Sticking mostly to his well-worn script Santa said the team looked good and that he was looking forward to getting after it once again. He did veer off script at the end when he jokingly mentioned that he was looking a little fat.

Santa’s team opens its pre-season in three weeks with a trip to the local mall in Blueberry Falls, Illinois, followed by a warm up flight to the south pole and back. After that it’s the annual Easter/Christmas throw down and the final tune up will be on December 20th when they attempt to fly the Grand Canyon. They open the regular one game season and playoff on Christmas Eve.