Saturday, February 2, 2008

Getting My Curl On

Events like I experienced today are exactly what this blog is about. We were given the opportunity to 'learn to curl' by our friends Vinh and Megan. Curling is that unique Winter Olympic sport that we all watch in amazement and wonder, "who in the hell does this stuff, and how did get into the Olympics?" I can't even explain how excited I was to curl. So I will give you what my small brain absorbed and deemed relevant from the day.

First, basically you push off of a rubber block, called the 'hack' and slide down the ice as you release a 40 pound granite 'stone' down the ice aimed at a giant bullseye about 140 feet away. The object is to get as many of your 8 stones close to the center of the bullseye, which is called 'the house' and the center is called 'the button.' You can only score if the stone is within the outermost circle, and only the team closest to the button scores as many points as they have stones inside of their opponents nearest stone. Each round is called an 'end,' similar to an inning in baseball, except far more exciting. It's kind of a shuffleboard meets bocce and putting on ice. As the stone slides down the ice you can 'sweep' it with a broom like device that basically creates friction and heat to help the stone slide more easily down the ice and stop where your team desires. Before I ramble on further, just go to Wikipedia if you really care about the details any more.

Some other interesting curling info to note:
  • It is considered polite and 'necessary' to have a drink with the opponent after each game.
  • The sport gets it's name because you put a slight amount of rotation on the stone as you throw it so it will curl left or right to hit other stones or curve around blocking stones to get to the center of the house. Sort of like a draw or fade in golf.
  • A curling event, or tournament is called a Bonspiel, which I am pretty sure means tournament in Scottish.
  • The ice is 'pebbled' to give it a slightly bumpy texture which aides in the ability of the stones to curl.
  • Curling all day is far more tiring than I expected.
  • Curling is far more about drinking than I expected.
  • Stretching out in the crazy throwing position will likely render my leg extremely sore or unusable tomorrow.
I have to put this on the list of one of the most entertaining things I have ever done. It's an awesome sport that combines coordination, strategy, teamwork and gamesmanship all into one. I would highly recommend it to anyone. If I could just learn to luge. Click here to view more curling photos from the day.

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