Monday, February 22, 2010
I'd be lying if I waxed poetically about the grace and athletic vigor that first drew me into curling. The fact of the matter is, curlers are some of the most fetching athletes at these Olympic games. Maybe it's because they are the only athletes not wearing helmets and pads (figure skaters don't count either, they move too fast and look like they raided a Sears makeup counter).
SS and I watched about an hour of a US vs. England female curling match Saturday evening, and I'll be darned if I didn't make a mental note to google if curling calendars existed (yes, they do). For clarification purposes, that last sentence was facetious, although I just searched for 'curling calendar' to find that link, so which is creepier? I also made a mental note to look up the rules and strategy for curling, which I conveniently found here.
The graphic above is pilfered directly from the link above, but goes a long way in clarifying what had previously seemed to be 'glorified shuffleboard', something I'm sure curlers would give you dirty looks for suggesting. Here is what I learned.
-The stone is made from granite, not marble as I theorized, and not concrete (SS). It weighs between 17-20kg (that's 37-44lbs for you yanks). It makes bowling look like pick-up sticks. Or jacks (no, not those). Or something else effeminate.
-The term 'curling' comes from the 'curl' that the stone's path endures during rotation.
-Teams consist of 4 people. One who 'throws' and three who sweep. The sweepers furiously brush ice away from the stone to control its trajectory. I still have no idea why there are two different colored brushes. I would bet that a lot of retired curlers open up car washes.
-Much like the beloved Bocce' ball that you get drunk and play with Grandpa, only the team closest to the center target scores points, receiving one point for each stone that is closer to the 'button' than the nearest opponents stone.
-The final throw is called 'The Hammer' and is probably just as obnoxious here as it is in shuffleboard. While I'm sure it has finesse up the wazoo, this usually consists of rocketing the stone down the ice and obliterating everyone in the way.
-The game lasts 10 ends (rounds), at which point a winner is called or in the event of a tie, the game heads to 'extra-ends' (c'mon curlers, have a sense of humor, 'dead-ends' is the only logical term).
-Apparently there's a ton of strategy involved and it's very difficult, so SS and my idea of becoming curling sharks or somehow becoming walk-on Olympians may be a bit far-fetched. See the video below (don't mind the terrifying screaming, that's how they communicate).