Is this the right meeting?

My name is BA. And I'm an Olympaholic.

I'm not sure when it started. Probably 1984, when I lived in Los Angeles and went to a number of the Olympic events. It may have started earlier, when my father, who was a college gymnast and women's gymnastics coach would watch gymnastics with me, correcting each mistake made by the Olympic gymnasts and predicting, with uncanny accuracy, their final scores.

Ever since then, I've been addicted to the Olympics.

It doesn't matter what the event is (although, I must admit, I'm not partial to figure skating...although that Sasha Cohen, hot and Jewish, keeps me somewhat interested), I can watch it and immediately be intrigued.

However, recently, this issue took on a life of its own.

I discovered curling.

And, simply stated, I've found a new high.

For the uninitiated, curling is sort of like shuffleboard, where two teams of four compete sliding 45 pound stones down a sheet of ice. The scoring system is a somewhat complicated, but involves who can get the closest to the center of a target-type series of circles.

Ah, it must be like horseshoes you say... Oh, how wrong you are.

Curling is actually more akin to chess than to horseshoes. While there is certainly a level of skill required to place the rocks where you want them, the real gift is in calculating the strategy to accumulate the most rocks near the "button" by the completion of the "end," or when all the rocks have been thrown. If you get there before the "end" had ended (yes, that was intentional), it doesn't matter.

So, thank all that is holy for Tivo and Microsoft (yeah, I know, I didn't think I'd ever thank them for anything) for CNBC's Olympic curling coverage, because without that team, I don't know how I could catch all the sometimes-slow-but-always-fun-action. And nothing is more entertaining than watching financial reporters and pundits attempt to comment on curling...that's worth watching alone.

Unfortunately, overachieving Team USA's men's curling team was eliminated from gold or silver contention yesterday by our much beloved, but curling-reviled neighbors to the North. So, after the bronze medal game, I'm going to be forced to go cold turkey.

I wonder what curling withdrawal symptoms will be like...


Tracy Lynn said...

OK, dude, maybe you can give me a blow by blow, because, as much as I am loath to admit it, I am weirdly attracted to the curling. I'm not saying that I understand it in any way, shape or form, because I really don't, but it DOES fascinate me. I ended up watching it almost every day at dialysis.
And I truly do love the Olympics, as well.

Blundering American said...

A kindred spirit!

OK, here's how I, an almost life-long Southerner, understand it:

There are ten ends, which are like innings. In each end, the teams get eight 45 lbs stones to push down into the target-looking thing called the "house". If a stone is at all over the blue circle, then it is in the house.

Only one team can score per end and no scoring happens until the end is over (all 16 stones have been thrown). However, at then end of the "end" (yeah...the dangers of sports lingo), the team with the stone closest to the center of the house gets a point for all of the stones that are closer to the center than any of the opposing teams stones.

For example, if Team USA has 3 stones in the house, but Team Canada (sorry, a bit of resentment after getting hosed in the Olympics) has no stones in the house at the end of the "end", then Team USA gets 3 points in that end. However, if Team USA has 3 stones in the house, but Team Canada has "second rock" or the second closest rock to the center (although Team USA has "shot rock" or the closest to the center of the House), then Team USA gets only 1 point.

The team with the last stone is said to have the "Hammer," which is a critical advantage in the end, because it can be used to force out other stones, go for the center of the House, etc. The Hammer, however, doesn't switch automatically. I'm not quite sure about this, but I think it switches only if the team with the Hammer scores a point in that end.

So, what's up with the brooms??? Well, the game is played on ice (duh...), so sweeping with the brooms creates friction, melting the top layer of ice, which can make the stone go straighter and extend how far the stone will go by up to 25 feet rather than sticking in place!

Ok, so why the hell is it called "curling"? That because when you throw a stone, you turn the handle one direction or the other (in-turn or out-turn), which causes the stone to "curl" on the ice in one direction.

It really is a facsinating game of finesse, strategy, and skill.

If you'd like to know more that my basic understanding from compusively watching CNBC check out the curling school.