I’ve been told I’m quirky. I don’t see it that way, but that seems to be the popular opinion. Perhaps it’s because I have a “hate-list” of words, such as amoeba, skillet, often, friend-zone and queue … I really hate “queue.” Or perhaps it may be the fact that I tend to correct other people’s spelling, while they’re talking. You’d be surprised at how many people say “there” instead of “their.” I correct their grammar too, but that’s not as fun. Apparently, however, the most confusing thing about me, according to my contemporaries, peers and friends, is why the heck I watch so much, let’s call it “non-main event” material.
Well, let me explain. I like things. Thing are fun, and I like to maximize my exposure to such things because I’ve been told life is short (unless of course you are watching one of those home remodeling shows) and that I should do what I like. I like to watch things, things like baseball. I watched as many pre-season games as I could. I know it had no bearing on the season, but I like baseball, and pre-season baseball is more baseball. I also like Formula-1 racing (and you should too!), which is why I watch the practices and qualifying rounds, because that is more F1. Getting the pattern?
Then, I also like this other thing that only comes up once every four years, lasts hours for a single round and eats up all the free DVR space we have. This prompted the question, “Why the (grown-up word) is this taking up all our DVR space?” It could only be one thing, the greatest Olympic event in the history of the games: curling. And it’s the official Team USA tryouts!
I was drawn to the sport during the last winter Olympiad, partly because people were raving about it, either genuinely or ironically, and partly because the only other games I was interested in were the bobsled and luge, and the total combined TV airtime for both of those events was about two minutes. No, we want to watch 36-hours of figure skating … BALONEY! It’s as bad as trying to watch the real summer Olympic events, like javelin, shot put, pole vault and such. NBC did okay with the streaming aspect, but I really hope they up their game this year and get some decent coverage for a change. Where was I? Oh yeah, curling.
I turned on the sport as somewhat of a lark, having no intention of really watching it, but to give it a glance and have some background noise as I was doing something else. What I found however, was intriguing. This wasn’t just a “go-as-fast-as-you-can” sport like most others. No, this one required finesse, accuracy, stamina and forethought. Yes, strategy! An event that tests not only the body, but the mind as well. Where to put the stone behind the hog line? Do you go for a shot in the rings, or do you set up a guard? Go for a war of attrition and knock each others stones out of the way, or go for big points with risky placements and an epic takeout? All within the confines of a time limit, to add to the stress … it’s fantastic!
The cerebral aspect of the game is great for nerds like me. I may not have the speed on the ice that Apolo Ohno has, or the grace of … whoever a good figure skater is, but after years of playing Tetris, Warcraft and air hockey, I am thoroughly convinced that I could out-place, out-strategize and out-takeout some of the best of them. And who said I didn’t have a healthy ego?
But it’s not just a thinking man’s game. It requires a combination of brute strength — to handle the 38-44 pound stones and give them enough of a shove to get them down the ice — and finesse, that delicate touch to give it just the right amount of spin to go exactly where you want it to … and a couple of dudes to look goofy by sweeping the ice in front of it to “fine tune” the trajectory. I’m not going to get into the physics of it, which has nothing to do with “cleaning off the ice” either.
If you’re not a fan of curling, or have never bothered to check it out, I encourage you to take a peek at it. It’s only on once every four years (with the odd championship broadcast every now and then on some obscure satellite sports station), and it is well worth the time. Kick back, relax, and watch. For the men, you can check out the ladies in the skin tight spandex (don’t pretend you don’t look, liar), and ladies, you can watch men do something that you never thought possible — sweep!