… While trying to coax out a few more blogs from this poor, taped-up laptop
February 25, 2010
It tops the list of ‘Dumb Winter Sports.’
Curling tops my list of what I respectfully refer to as "Dumb Winter Sports." To this list, I would include almost everything except skiing, snowboarding and hockey, which are merely "Insane Winter Sports." People call to ask what it’s like up here, and I tell them that it’s like summer camp in the snow — for the dumb and the insane. You should hear them sigh enviously on the other end of the phone line.
Yet, curling leads the dumb list. As you probably know, the Scots invented it some 500 years ago, and probably what’s most amazing is not that it has survived over the centuries but that they ever played it a second time.
"Nah, let’s not do that ev’r again," some wise Scotsman should’ve said in 1541.
So we’re left with curling. I’ve witnessed it now three times here in Vancouver. The arena is located in a very nice residential area next to Queen Elizabeth Park, which houses by the way a splendid little restaurant called Seasons. If you’re ever in Vancouver with a big wad of fifties in your fist, you should visit Seasons. Good food. Great service. Spectacular view. Everything here in Vancouver seems to be what the Realtors like to call "a view property."
I might hit some open houses this weekend, and what I’ll be looking for is anything "curling adjacent."
Because, like you probably, I am seriously smitten with curling and the silly-serious people who play it.
They look like you and me, these athletes, with the exception of the winsome Cheryl Bernard, the Canadian captain I’ve dubbed "The "Vancougar."
To watch Bernard yell "Hurry! Hard!" to her teammates is a bit of curling marketing magic that just can’t be duplicated. How long before she graces the cover of Maxim? Minutes? "Hurry! Hard!" the headline will say.
But other than the Vancougar, the curlers look mostly like the rest of us, maybe a little more pasty. One qualification, apparently — and it’s not just for curling — is that you have to be as white as an index card. In the Winter Olympics handbook, "diversity" reads, "OK, we have enough blonds, what we need now are a few more people with brown hair and maybe a redhead."
That’s fine by me. I’ve always liked redheads. But, after two weeks, it remains shocking how the skin tones of these athletes mimic the icy white surfaces on which they perform. As a person of color — in my case, a ruddy Irish incandescence — I’m a little uncomfortable with it all.
The other thing about curlers is that they can be a little doughy. Like biscuits. I think this comes from eating too much herring. It also protects them from frostbite. Have you noticed they play this icy game in short sleeves? That’s a lot of herring.
They’re tough all around, these curlers. One of the Canadian team members, I kid you not, is six months pregnant. Quick, name one other sport that is played while you are seriously preggers. No, golf does not count. Neither does eating, which is not a sport — though it soon will be, replacing that completely ridiculous biathlon.
Something you probably didn’t know about curling? They always prep the ice with a little tank and a sprayer, the kind your old man used to rid the yard of dandelions. It leaves the rink surface pebbled like a football and fast as a West Texas putting green.
Another thing you probably didn’t know about curling is that the stones — 42 pounds, approximately the size of a good burger — make a low moaning sound as they skate across the ice, sort of a guttural Gregorian chant.
I find this sound very sleep-inducing, which is at odds with the sport’s reputation for raw excitement. Curling is, quite possibly, the only sport that could be played while sleeping.
But getting back to the Gregorian chants for a moment, I find that the sounds the stones produce are almost mystical, the moaning that must escape from monks when they have uncapped some deep spiritual secret. Ommmmmmmmm.
Or perhaps the stones themselves are saying a little prayer for us:
"Oh, these poor curling fans," goes the prayer. "Let them get a life."
Curling grows on you!
Stone (or rock): Made of 42 pounds of Scottish granite.
Curl: The way a stone "curls" into place with a highly finessed spin. Clockwise to the right; counterclockwise… well, take a guess.
End: Like a baseball inning, except there are 10.
Hammer: The last shot. A huge deal in curling, it goes to the team that didn’t score.
Button: The bulls-eye. Closest stone scores one point. If you have two stones closer than any of your opponent’s stones, you get two points, etc.
House: The green circle. You must be "in the house" to score.
Guard: A protective shot.
Takeout: A clearing shot.
Draw: A touch shot, usually aimed for "the house".
I guess I should have done this glossary thing earlier.
Watching USA vs Canada in hockey. Gold medal game!!
Erin Pac earns a bronze medal in women’s bobsled
It’s Kim Yuna and everyone else in women’s figure skating.
The South Korean prodigy has her rivals’ coaches, former gold medal winners and figure skating analysts fumbling for superlatives.
Lindsey Vonn – Down and out
Conditions may not be good for those taking part in aerials event Thursday night. Already, two of the favorites have failed to qualify for the 12-man final.
Canada takes out it’s anger against Russia
U S defeats Swiss to advance to semifinals
Former figure skater Lisa Chesson now plays defense for team USA women’s hockey
Lots of Gold tonight! enjoy.