Monday, May 07, 2012

The New York Times mentions curling. Stop the presses!

Curling is a big thing in Canada. It gets a lot of television coverage. There are national tournaments that many people follow closely. Some are sponsored by coffee and donut store chains, which is a fact Canadians understand. There are even provincial teams that compete against each other, which engenders a great deal of regional pride.

I wouldn't want to suggest that better known players are necessarily rock stars, but they have a certain profile. Case in point is that I don't follow the sport really at all, but I can actually name a few skips (team captains) on some of the better known rinks (teams). And just for the record, I did not have to look up that bit of nomenclature. You just pick it up in Canada. I can even say that I know people who curl, a number of them, including members of my wife's family.

When I came to Canada many years ago, it took some time getting used to the fact that curling was always sort of there, especially in the winter.

The point of this introduction is that I was quite surprised to see an op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times over the weekend promoting Olympic curling as one of the few sports not overrun by professionals and therefore one we should embrace as a true example of the Olympic spirit.

I also thought the description of the game in the Times was charming:

You could call it frozen shuffleboard or bocce on ice, but that's not enough. There's a rink, two bull's-eye targets and smooth stones to slide. But there are also brooms and a lot of yelling, and strategy. It's Flintstones winter bowling. It's track-and-field plus ballroom dancing, done by crazy housekeepers. 

You put your foot in a rubber starting block and launch yourself across the ice, clutching broom and stone, keeping low and going slow. Eventually you let the stone go, and the ice instantly becomes Lady Macbeth's kitchen floor, as your team viciously scrubs and scrubs at invisible dirt in front of the stone. This makes it go farther and keeps stray hair or lint from tilting it out of line, making it useless for knocking out targets.

That's adorable. But it's serious business in the Great White North. You would know that if you ever happened to catch a bonspiel.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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