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I Love Watching Curling, and You Will Too

The first time I watched an Olympic curling match on television, I entertained a thought that is surely said that he shared all persons who find the sport for the first time: What the hell am I looking at?

It was during the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I tuned in to the live feed at the very beginning of a women’s medal match. I was intrigued by the grace of the players and how they could effortlessly slide those huge, bulb-like stones down the ice. But everything else about it was confusing. It appeared kind of like shuffleboard, but with more yell. And lots of weird material. The rules, the lingo, they way they used brooms–brooms !– to make the stones slide around. And it just seemed so carrying. How could anyone stand watching a sport with such a lack of obvious athleticism, such inscrutable gameplay, and such a lethargic speed?

By the two hour recognize, I was riveted. I still didn’t understand what the brooms were for, but I was beginning to figure out the relevant rules. The lingo was beginning to make sense. And I was utterly consumed by the drama. When the match ended, I speedily set my DVR to record every curling broadcast for the rest of the Olympics, including reruns. I was hooked. What had started as a chance encounter with an esoteric athletic had ended in an insatiable thirst for more, immediately.

Curl You Know It’s True

Curling is absolutely the best athletic to watch on television, particularly for onlookers looking for an escape from the frenzied “more, faster, bigger, higher” grind of most televised games. Watching basketball or hockey can get you so hyped up, you feel like boozing a Red Bull and doing jumping jacks. Watching curling stimulates you wishes to drink a glass of red wine and lie down on the shag carpet. Curling is deliberate. Thoughtful, even. The plays move very slowly. The musicians expend a lot of hour talking strategy. There are nods and quiet terms of encouragement; rarely are there conflicts. When “were coming” time for a squad member to play their become by sliding a stone down the ice, the moves are elegant. There’s a wind up, a push-off, a slip, and a gentle release. Such poise and finesse!

Before my words dissolve into a string of breathless sighs, let me tell you about the game itself. Curling does indeed resemble shuffleboard( also bocce or petanque ), where the object is to get as many of your game parts as close as you can to the marker at the other end of the field of play. Teams are made up of four musicians each. One player slips the stone down the ice while two of the other musicians sweep the ice in front of the stone with brooms to try to control the stone’s speed and direction of travel.

Then there’s all that funny lingo. The stone is often called a “rock.” The realm of play-act is a “sheet.” The purpose marker at the other objective of the sheet is called the “house.” There’s some funny equipment too: special shoes, those brooms, and the boulders themselves. The smooth, 44 -pound pieces of granite make cool clunking voices when they knock into each other.( There’s a rock emoji, natch .) The stones slip differently depending on the sheet, moving straight or curving naturally, and sweeping can control these factors. The team captain is, simply, “skip.” The hop-skip does most of the cry, known as “line calling.” These are commands for the sweepers that tell them how “hard” or “easy” to sweep.

Each round of play is called an “end.” Teams throw eight stones per aim. The more boulders you get in the house, the more points you score, though merely one squad can score per terminate. You tally up the winner’s degrees following the conclusion of each purpose; after ten ends, the team with the most points wins the match.

The powerhouse teams come from countries you’d expect; the territories resounding the Arctic circle like Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Russia. The US does very well on the international circuit. Asia has made some strong demonstrations lately–Korea and China in particular.

You’d presume the competitors are unathletic. After all, there’s no working, jump-start, or dunking. But curlers are almost all in great shape. You can tell because the uniforms are form-fitting. And since their faces are unobscured by helmets, goggles, or any protective equipment, you can read their feelings in full 4K and really get eye-to-eye with them in your living room. When a musician scream in anguish at bad hurl, you’re right there next to them. Curlers are crush-worthy. They become sympathetic characters. Sometimes literally; this one looks like Mario. The long matches, often stretching to two and half hours, give you the chance to develop close bonds with particular athletes. The teams too–I was rooting hard for the Swiss women’s team during the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. The rest of the time, my devotions belong to perennial underdogs Denmark.

My Curl Friday

The casual observer watching at home can pick up all the important stuff over such courses of a single game. When I watched that fateful first match, I was biting my nails in frustration as the boulders stopped well short of the house. But the strategy exposed itself over time. Those weren’t bad throws, that was one team setting up defensive blocks so they could tuck the next throw behind one of those shielding rocks, making it harder for the other team to knock away their points.

Though games can get very intense very quickly, things bide pretty relaxed the majority of cases. It’s in those long stretchings of nothing where you’ll find the true exhilaration of curling as a televised sport. Become on a match in the evening, dim the sunlights, and feel the pressures of your other life drop away into an epic, dripping slowness. Stillness your phone, flip it upside down on the coffee table, and enter the alternate Curliverse which allows you gently slide your worries down the ice on a cushion of tranquility.

A new style of play is being tested for the first time at the Gangneung Curling Centre in Korea: mixed doublings. This form of curling has two players per team–one humankind, one woman–instead of four, and plays last eight ends instead of ten. Gameplay is a brisk 90 minutes instead of the afternoon-filling two or three hours. More degrees are scored, and it’s supposedly an easier event to watch. Candidly, it sounds neat and I hope it uncovers more people to curling.

But I’ll continue to advocate for the original version. It’s longform television at its finest. I could watch hours and hours of curling on TV, and over the next three weeks, I will. Maybe someday, I’ll actually understand a match played live.

Olympic Fever

To maximize your Olympics viewing this year, you’re going to need to watch online. Here’s how

Oh and did you visualize the 1,200 drones wing around during the course of its Winter Olympics welcoming ceremony depict ?~ ATAGEND

At least, though, drones can’t catch the dreaded norovirus that threatens Olympic Games athletes

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