February 24, 2010

About this Curling

Oh my rocks. Those things are called rocks you know. Or more formally, stones. And they are made from granite. Imagine all those countertops.

Curling was entertaining. It was amusing. Now it's annoying. Every time we turn on the TV, it's more curling. Our Canadian friends keep telling us it's one of the most popular "sports" in the world, just not in the U.S. Really? It's like shuffleboard. It's on television in Canada ALL DAY LONG. There's nothing like turning on the television in the middle of the day to enjoy a bit of Oprah, the news, and finding curling on AGAIN. The thing is -- it's somewhat addicting. It's like flipping through the channels looking for something educational and the remote happens to stop on Bravo and before you know it you get sucked into watching the full episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. And then you realize you wasted an entire hour where you could have been out shoveling the driveway. That's what happens when you start watching curling. Kish was hoping that all that yelling about sweeping would motivate her to...well...sweep something.

We believe that sports where you can play and enjoy a beer (or two) at the same time should not be considered Olympic sports. Ooops. That rules out skiing as Kish enjoys a glass of red before skiing, and certainly after skiing. Apr├Ęs-ski, but pre-ski we like to call it. Now....Ski Cross...that's some crazy shi stuff.

The following is from the Montreal Gazette's Bluffer's Guide column...

Curling? That's the bedpan and house brush sport, right?
Stone and broom, if you please. The stones are made from Scottish granite and weigh almost
20 kilograms each. The brooms have synthetic bristles, unlike the old style, which were made with straw.

20 kilograms? So the winners are always the strongest?
Not necessarily. The idea is to get the stone as close to the centre (tee) of a circle as possible. A point is awarded for each stone closer to the tee than the opponents' best, provided that the stone is within 1.83 metres of the tee. This area is the house. Accuracy and timing are key rather than brawn.

Like all winter sports, the gold medal favourites will come from the coldest countries?
Mostly, but Great Britain's men's team won the first curling gold at Chamonix in France in 1924 and are the world champions. The sport disappeared off the Olympic radar until 1998, when Switzerland took the men's gold while Canada won the women's event. In 2002, the women's gold went to Britain.

Doesn't sound like the most gripping of sports. Any storylines I should know?
Sandra Schmirler skipped the 1998 Canada gold medal team, but died two years later at the age of 36 from cancer. In Turin in 2006, Denmark's women's team needed extra security following outrage in the Muslim world after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

What should I watch for in Vancouver?
Dumping. Sounds unsavoury, but it's when a player lifts his broom to leave debris on the ice, slowing down the stones of an opponent. Canadian teammates Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert and Richard Hart were recently at loggerheads over the issue in a club game.

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