Photo via Ford World Curling Championships
I first got caught up in curling during the last Winter Olympics and resolved to follow the sport as best I could in the off years. There are many things I love about the sport. Among them:
- A sport involving brooms and 40-pound rocks is inherently awesome.
- Sportsmanship is central to the game's culture. Check out The Spirit of Curling. It's not mere lip service. The curling world takes this very seriously.
- Teams are expected to concede once a win is out of reach and they usually do. Nothing in any sport is more boring than a blowout and this helps to prevent them, or at least to keep them from going on forever.
- Olympic curling coverage in the US is not on the main NBC channel which means the sport avoids the nausea-inducing human interest stories altogether.
- Players qualify for world tournaments as a team, not as an assemblage of all-stars as with other sports. It's the equivalent of sending the NBA champions to the Olympics en masse.
- The sport favors the middle-aged. Mirjam Ott, skip of the newly-crowned world champion Swiss team, is 40 years old.
- It looks like fun! One could easily imagine a casual game with all participants standing around the ice with beers in hand.
As Mock's comment on my last curling post suggested, we have been keeping our eyes out for a place to try the game ourselves. I have found two ice rinks in Vermont which have curling regularly but both are at least a two-hour drive for us. Furthermore, their intro programs tend to be on Sunday and Wednesday evenings - not exactly convenient. Canada is an option, though as we are closest to Quebec and at least my own French is minimal, finding someone to teach us in English could be tricky.
Mirjam Ott and her rink won Switzerland's third women's world title and their first since 1983. She is also a two-time Olympic silver medalist and a two-time European champion. Canada, the host nation, finished a disappointing third. Team USA managed to finish fifth after a miserable 0-4 start in the round robin stage.
I recently figured out that the three sports The Armchair Squid follows most closely - baseball, tennis and curling, at least according to mission - have something very interesting in common. It has to do with the basic rules of the sport. One is easy: all are oppositional, meaning one has to contend with an opponent directly. But there's something else. Curling, I will admit, requires an asterisk at least as far as "official" events are concerned but I think the similarity still holds, big picture. I'll reveal the answer with my men's World Championship preview on Friday. Anyone have a guess?