Curling ROCKS! Who Knew?

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Countdown to the 2010 Vancouver Games

Kid 4 and I are embarking on an ambitious challenge.  We are attempting to become Samsung Mobile Explorers who will share the Olympics with all through video, blog and mobile updates.   Great gig if you can get it, right?   I’m sayin!

So I’m brushing up on my winter games research.  Where better to start than Curling?

Photo courtesy of Jim Thompson Olympic Photos http://www.abqjournal.com/pix/olympics/

I’ve always wondered what the big deal was.  I always thought that the sport looked like a miniature version of How I Clean My House….Wait around for someone to get slung in my direction then frantically brush away a path  to walk through until they hit the Mark which would be Where The Food Is.   So one guy slings some giant puck thingy, and a couple of intensely focused sweepers swishy swhishy to get some ice shavings out of the way.  I don’t get it.

Newsflash:  It turns out Curling is COMPLEX.   Wikipedia calls it “chess on ice.”   Well butter my biscuits, now we’re talking sport with strategy and teamwork.  Bring it, curling.  Let’s see whatcha got.

First of all the ice is a carefully prepared rectangle.  Sounds a bit like the greens on a golf course perhaps?  Do you KNOW anyone who works for/manages/frequents a golf course?  If not, just watch Caddyshack & you’ll see how OCD the greenskeepers can be.  Even fictional ones.  So a rectangle of ice is bound to bring out the control freak in some maintenance person behind the scenes.   THAT’S a reality show waiting to happen.

Secondly each team has four (4) players.  As in FOUR.    One slides the heavy granite stone down the ice towards the house.  (That’s target to you & me).  After the launch, two sweepers equipped with brooms & GPS-type timing equipment scoot down ahead of the granite rock directing it where to go.  This is where it gets amazing.  People, they are not just smoothing out the ice for the stone to slide across like so many mini-zamboni brooms.  They are actually carving an intentional path for that thing.  With purpose.  And teamwork.  And the hoots & hollers from others (one of which I’m guessing  is the 4th guy) who are actually directing the stone where to go and how fast.  Can you even imagine the drama for those sweeper guys in those moments?  Picture any family member and/or coach on the sidelines of any sport that takes place for 30 minutes to an hour, condense it into 45 seconds and I bet it might mirror curling tension.  I’m still not sure what else the fourth guy does…maybe they take turns slinging the granite or maybe he’s the human GPS navigator of the group.  Either way, they’ve got their work cut out for them, because if they don’t land on the house, they have to at least land closer than their opponents to secure the coveted victory.   

I’m a little embarrassed that it never occured to me that curling took actual skill–not to mention accomplished group dynamics.   Which adds a whole ‘nother dimension of difficulty, as anyone who deals with other people will attest.  There’s a kind of teamwork where participants are doing individual jobs where others can pick up your slack if you fail (like a marching band), and there’s the kind of teamwork where you are each part of a whole where you are the only one doing exactly what you do (like a rock band).  If one part is missing, mission not accomplished.  

Olympic Curling athletes, I am now inspired anew to sling, brush and navigate in my little corner of the world as you do so well in yours.  Train hard.  Rest up.  And get ready to BRING IT  in 2010!  I will be cheering you on.  Hopefully in person!

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