(Sorry I’ve been gone so long — hopefully I’ll be more on it this week!)
I’m guessing that most of the world is aware that the Winter Olympics are currently going on over there in British Columbia, Canada. I’m excited to be around a TV with satellite capacity this week so I can watch my favorite Olympic sport: curling!
I’ve always been taken a bit by curling, even though it gets virtually no play here in the US (television coverage is only scheduled for cable networks). And I actually spent about two months curling myself during the winter I lived in Milwaukee. Plus, I figure if there’s any chance left for me to be an Olympian myself, it’s in curling (though I better get practicing again soon)!
Curing is a bit hard to explain for those who haven’t checked it out, but the object is a little like bocce ball or shuffleboard if you’re familiar with those. There is a target at one end of an ice rink, and you use a strip of the ice similar to a bowling lane. You have these large granite pieces of rock called “stones,” and you push them down the ice in an attempt to be the closest to the center of the target at the conclusion of an “end” (a bit like a baseball inning). Teams alternate attempts so that each team shoots eight stones per end. The stones may hit one another, knocking other stones closer or farther away, so there is strategy involved with an advantage of going last. If a team scores, they go first to start the next end (similar to golf’s advantage), and if no one scores, the order is repeated.
Or, you can take the curling Wikipedia entry‘s explanation: “Curling is a team sport with similarities to lawn bowling and shuffleboard played on a sheet of carefully prepared ice. Two teams of four players take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones down the ice towards the target (called the house). Two sweepers with brooms or brushes accompany each stone and use timing equipment and their best judgment, along with direction from their teammates, to help direct the stones to their resting place. The purpose is to complete each end (delivery of 16 stones) with the team’s stones closer to the centre of the house than the other team’s. The relaxed, turn-based progression of the game have led some to compare curling to chess and baseball.”
Perhaps one reason I like curling so much is that element of strategy. Sure, there’s a lot of skill to get the stone where you want it to go (and the sweeping — though that’s maybe too much to comment on here), but it’s the combination of skill and strategy that make a team successful.
If you have cable access over the next two weeks, head to this website to see the TV schedule in your area (click near the top to change settings for non-Eastern time zones). Watching some games will give you the best chance to learn and understand this exciting game. More info about curling in the Olympics can be found here: http://www.nbcolympics.com/curling/index.html
And if you live in a cold winter climate location (or not!), it’s likely you could be curling yourself come next winter if you’d like — check out this website to find a curling club near you, and maybe we’ll walk together in the parade of nations at the 2026 Winter Olympics!
(Oh, and I’m not the only one loving the curing these days: Rick Reilley of ESPN falls in love)