Day Five: In Defense Of Curling

With the Olympics about a quarter done, let’s run through the comments to see if there is anything amiss.  And, sad to report, there is.  One of us came with: “curling would be more fun to watch if the competitors carried rifles.”  This instigated a right-hand-menu poll, in which the question was asked: “what would get you to watch curling?”  BC Bud is leading “weapons-grade Roombas” at the moment.

Hold.  Up.  You’re in my house now, as — yes — a former curler. 

Took up the sport while in Madison.  Would curl now, if the rinks weren’t all the way up in North Bumblefuck — a lovely little town which would be an hour and a half away from downtown at rush hour, thus making me late for the start.

Why do I dig curling?  It’s Rule No. 1, entitled “The Spirit of Curling.”  Follow me post-jump, please.

The rule (from the PDF of the World Curling Federation’s Rules of Curling):

Curling is a game of skill and of tradition. A shot well executed is a delight to see and it is also a fine thing to observe the time-honoured traditions of curling being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers play to win, but never to humble their opponents. A true curler never attempts to distract opponents, nor to prevent them from playing their best, and would prefer to lose rather than to win unfairly.

Curlers never knowingly break a rule of the game, nor disrespect any of its traditions. Should they become aware that this has been done inadvertently, they will be the first to divulge the breach.

While the main object of the game of curling is to determine the relative skill of the players, the spirit of curling demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honourable conduct.

This spirit should influence both the interpretation and the application of the rules of the game and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice.

And thus you have curlers calling their own fouls.  And the handshakes before and after the game.  And the losers buying the first round, and the winners buying the second.  Just like it should work in real life.

And there’s the fact that determining the winner and the loser in the game doesn’t require a doctorate.  Cross-country and the sliding events are pure objectivity — guy who crosses first wins.  Alpine skiing is also objective, except for moguls and aerials.  Speed skating is close, too — but with short-track, you get some judging of the inevitable collisions.  Refs also get in the mix in hockey, certainly. 

Then it gets worse from there.  Snowboarders are judged most of the time (except for the snowboard cross, source of another gold today for U.S. America.)  Judging has taken a simple thing like ski jumping and made it incomprehensible.  And figure skating makes even less sense now than it did 20 years ago. 

Curling?  If your stones are closer to the button, you score points.  The… fucking… end.

I could go on, but instead I will invite y’all to actually set the DVR for curling over on USA and CNBC for the next few days. 

Also on USA: the men’s hockey tourney gets underway — the U.S. hockey club takes on the Swiss.  The wimmin get Team Russia over on MSNBC in the late afternoon.  The Mothership has men’s biathalon in the afternoon.  So: plenty of good options before the inevitable overload on the men’s short program.


Curling also requires lots of beer.

I’ve played, not well, but I’ve played. It’s something to do when hockey is not on, you don’t have someone to screw (or tired of screwing) and you need a reason to drink beer.

Oddly enough, my Korean immigrant dad can’t enough of it. He’ll watch every damn game he can (and he’s never curled one bit.)

Biathalon: Were you the fastest skier? Did you hit more targets than the others?

it was a pretty crazee weekend at my house. but I think detente has settled. by last night he was sitting between the two dogs on the sofa purring.

@mellbell: Depending on the shooting performance, extra distance or time is added to the contestant’s total running distance/time. As in most races, the contestant with the shortest total time wins.

For each shooting round, the biathlete must hit five targets; each missed target must be “atoned for” . . . by skiing around a 150 metres (490 ft) penalty loop, typically taking 20–30 seconds for top-level biathletes to complete (running time depending on weather/snow conditions) . . .

All cross-country skiing techniques are permitted in biathlon, which means that the free technique is usually the preferred one, being the fastest.

The biathlete carries a .22 LR rifle . . .

The target range shooting distance is 50 metres (160 ft). There are five circular targets to be hit in each shooting round. When shooting in the prone position the target diameter is 45 millimetres (1.8 in), when shooting in the standing position* the target diameter is 115 millimetres (4.5 in). On all modern biathlon ranges, the targets are self-indicating, in that they flip from black to white when hit, giving the biathlete as well as the spectators instant visual feedback for each shot fired.

-Wiki P


* An inherently less accurate position because of the lack of support for the rifle as compared to the prone position.

Curling seems to be the identical game to the kind of bowling my grandparents knew in Cowdenbeath. That’s played on a lawn of velvet with big black bowls (ie balls). There’s a small white one that is bowled first then the other players try to get their balls as close to it as possible. In matches of particular ruthlessness, players will knock each others balls out of the way. This precipitates gasps amongst onlookers. Then everyone buys everyone else drinks. Plus, for the smokers, avery time you light a cigarette you offer the pack to the table and complain about the damn sassenachs. And so on.

Chicago Bureau, oh this will sound naive and simplistic, but I honestly believe that sportsmanship is a sine qua non of democracy, of stability, the orderly transfer of power, of the kind of peace and order that creates wealth and opportunity. Good old fashioned playing fields of Eaton sportsmanship. We, US Amurricans, are losing it, rapidly. Very rapidly. I blame football (winning isn’t everything, its the only thing). Rampant cheating, and “in your face” assholish gloating, this is what is happening in politics, the GOP, they lack sportsmanship, they are cheaters and sore losers.

And I do truly and literally believe that the end of this path, is the decline of civilization. The eternal back and forth of retaliation and counter-retaliation that bedevils bannana republics and tribal africa. Insufficient stability to allow commerce, art, or learning to flourish.

Yes, civilization depends on accepting when you have lost, and on winning magnanimously, goddammit.

@Benedick: Bocce ball on ice. Except it’s a lot harder to do the proper glide and release with the curling stone without falling on your ass than it is to stand there and chuck a ball across the gravel.

@CB: I have a lot of faith in the Scots for inventing proper, civilized, and somewhat boring sports like golf and curling. But you do have to admit the sweepers look a little…well…silly.

@flippin eck: They might sex it up with cheerleaders doing the sweeping. has live streaming of curling this morning. I’m setting up the machine to watch biathalon later.

@Benedick: Or Christina Hendricks.

Meanwhile, David Brooks is talking out his ass again. Does he drink before he writes his column, or does he have a chimpanzee help him type? Who knew evangelical churches have “shown how men can be nurturing”?


Forgive me, but how is it possible to read a David Brooks column? They are better than secanol for inducing sleep, true, and I suppose if you lined a birdcage with them it wouldn’t hurt the birds, unlike an Ann Coulter column, for example. But to read all the way through?

That just isn’t a going proposition for me.

I’m sorry to interrupt you there, CB, but he’s crossed it out! Thomas Hardy here on the first day of his new novel has crossed out the only word he’s written so far, and he’s gazing off into space. Oh dear, he’s signed his name again.

Oh and, what, no “Bye-Bayh” headline? You’re slipping, guys.

@Tommmcatt Say Relax: I was seriously thinking of comparing Bayh headlines, and awarding Rachel the gold for “KTHXBAYH”.

Snow delays for Men’s super combined downhill and slalom. Women’s DH training run No. 3 canceled.

AP on the super combined events:

“The Super Combined event involves skiers completing one downhill run on the Dave Murray run and a single slalom run on the lower part, using a shorter, gated course.

“This is the first time in the Olympics for this variation of the event, and the first time that the second part of the competition has been reduced to a single run of the slalom gates. The times of the two runs are added together to determine the winner. ”


Downhillers usually use long stiff skis while slalom skiers use a more flexible ski that help them make quick turns. I’d like to see something on how the athletes select a ski that does both for this event.

From 1991, Jim McKay gets Up Close & Personal with Mr. Agony of Defeat.

TJ: TSA agents at Philly airport make physically and developmentally disabled 4-year-old boy remove plastic/metal leg braces and stagger through metal detector alone.

I suspect the only reason this is a story is because his dad is a cop.

@SanFranLefty: This is why we all love these goons. You give some unemployed goofballs a badge and they think they’re the fucking Sheriff of Dodge City.

@Benedick: I miss bowls. I saw it when I was in Scotland, and have never been able to find footage of it since — I recall an impossibly long course, and oblate spheroids of granite, which the bowlers would roll, wheel-like, to the target. As if on command, the bowl would suddenly flop over right on top of the target. The bowlers always looked as if they were putting in just enough energy to roll a few feet, but the bowls went the 200 yards (or whatever distance it was) and plunked over on command. Impressive skill.

@SanFranLefty: You go through DCA much? The TSA vermin there have a real fetish for ripping apart wheel chairs and the disabled people who use them. More than half the time I go through security, the TSA freaks have a chair in pieces, some poor terrified soul’s shoes off while they wave those metal-detector wands around them like bullwhips. It’s beyond twisted. The TSA thing that order the kid to yank of his braces needs to be kicked to death in front of her colleagues.

@IanJ: I have a photo of some kind of Lawn Sport in Scotland from my travels, two dudes in caps enjoying the action, pints in hand. Seemed like a very civilized way to end the day.

@Dodgerblue: Dunno, they didn’t show that part. I was watching the event on teevee. Certainly among my Scottish college roommates, there was a certain amount of consumption, but I vaguely recall cider being more popular than whiskey, probably for reasons of price. Plucky Scottish Roommate #1 (Chris? I forget) would always buy three pints of cider, and then let them sit for 20+ minutes to “take the chill off” when we went out.

@nojo: Whatever I was watching looked like a lot of fun, once you overcame the frustration of figuring out how hard to throw that damn hunk of granite. I never did get a chance to play, although I never pursued it.

Last year, I was finally introduced to bocce ball, which is the bastard redheaded stepchild of what I was watching in Scotland. Bocce is to bowls as Velveeta is to brie. Of course, having said that, I’ve also never found any evidence that what I recall actually exists, so I’m perfectly willing to believe that my mind was blown by lawn bowling on a 20 yard course, and I blew it so out of proportion that the memory bears no relation to the reality.

FTW, this is a Sport! Makes me so proud of my Fresian roots!

Add: Here’s another great example:

Canadian curler is 5 1/2 months pregnant.


ADD: hey, JNOV – today’s gold medalist in the women’s 10 km biathalon event, Magdelena Neuner, is a knitter.

@SanFranLefty: A fellow book seller at the LA Fair fell down some steps (that didn’t have railings–lawsuit alert!) during a studio tour at Paramount, broke her patella and tore her knee all to hell. She spent a day and a half at Cedars Sinai (compassionate insurance co had them kick her out before the 2nd night) and had 7 pins put in her knee, which has to be immobilized for at least 2 months. She lives in Boston. Her husband is driving her to her sister’s house in AZ because he knew she wouldn’t be able to get thru security at LAX without taking off the removable cast and they want to wait a week or two before doing that.

@Mistress Cynica: I don’t think the titanium screws in my knee set off the TSA alarms. I can also breeze through courthouse and government building metal detectors.

@SanFranLefty: I am so looking forward to going through TSA tomorrow on the way to Sandy Eggo. I’m more worried about the ATL end.

@rptrcub: You’re going to Stinque World Headquarters? Weather forecast for the week in CA is quite lovely. Maybe you’ll get to see Nojo and Pedonator….

@SanFranLefty: That is being arranged. And the weather will be a welcome change from the cold that has made Hotlanta move a few latitudes north this winter. At least it’s bad to me considering I can’t get the house above 60-something degrees (ca. 1925 with bad insulation).

Looks like no men’s alpine skiing on the TV tonight, per AP:

“The men’s super-combined has been rescheduled for Sunday. The men’s giant slalom was supposed to be Sunday has been shifted to next Tuesday, Feb. 23.

“Dry weather is forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Of the four Alpine races scheduled so far, only the men’s downhill has been held.”

– – – –

Guess it’s on to the gym after the parent’s club meeting at Son of RML’s school tonight.

Looking forward to Lindsay Vonn’s downhill run tomorrow. She’s won five out of six World Cup downhills this year.

Friday night: Henry Rollins in Albuquerque.

@Original Andrew: Good for you, because I burned off Bayh Bayh Bayh a long time ago.


You just know a big-time $candal’s about to ‘$polde.

@Original Andrew: I thought it was more mundane – he was going to go work as a lobbyist because he just couldn’t support his family on his government salary.

he wants to run against Obamas socialism in the primary in 2012


That’s what they initially said about Mark Foley. Dude’s porking everything in sight I tells ya.

@SanFranLefty: No idea. I suspect JD is further behind than his rapid teabagger friends think just because they don’t have as much $$ as Mr. Moneybags and the CofC, but they are much more rabid and GOTVy. It helps Mc$ain that Foghorn was finally forced off the air.

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