MD

Sports

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Advertise with us »

SportsMonday Column: Curling has saved the Winter Olympics

BY ANDY REID
Daily Sports Writer
Published February 21, 2010

I don’t know about most of you out there, but, for me, there’s always been something lacking in the Winter Olympics.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been watching as much as I can in between cramming for my last midterms. Any time Shaun White does his thing, I can’t help but daydream about how much better my life would be if I were him.

But, when I compare these to the summer games — especially 2008’s drama-filled event in Beijing — I have been really struggling to get into it.

Maybe my eye is just too untrained to see the differences and little quirks, but there’s only so many times I can watch a person ski down a hill or skate on a sheet of ice before it all starts to look exactly the same.

And it’s not like I don’t “get” it. I grew up in Michigan, and I’ve been snowboarding since I could strap on a board. Only now, after watching so many people race the same course over and over, do I appreciate what my mom did for me back then, sitting in a ski lodge and pretending not to be bored to tears as I waved to her from the bottom of the hill.

Part of the problem stems from NBC’s coverage of the games. The diversity and variety of events chosen for broadcast and the amount of airtime for live events haven’t been great. I think they did a better job two years ago, but that’s for another column altogether.

Long story short, I was about to give up on Vancouver 2010.

Then, one day after class last week, I found my personal Winter Games savior.

I got home and plopped down on the couch. One of my housemates had absentmindedly turned on NBC or one of its affiliates while he was surfing the Internet.

It just happened to be curling, and I’ve just happened to be enthralled ever since.

I wish I could tell you more about why I find the sport so damn intriguing. It’s slow-moving, highly mental and it appears as if the physical qualifications for athletes range from Extreme Couch Potato to Pro Bowling Association member.

Not to mention that I could probably watch an entire season of The Wire in the time it takes for them to play one game — or is it a match? Or a set? I don’t know. Whatever, you get the point.

But I can’t look away. The USA women’s 6-5 win over Great Britain — which ended in the 11th after the English screwed up on a very makeable toss (at least, I think that’s what happened) — was probably the most exciting thing for me during the Olympics so far. It was incredible.

I’m starting to pick up on the rules. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but the winner of each round is the one with a stone closest to the middle. Then, the winning team gets one point for each stone they have closer to the middle than the other team’s closest stone. Whew. Confused? Yeah, me too, a little.

But that’s part of the fun. That’s what I’ve been looking for. The Summer Games offer a myriad of sports that seem exotic and fun — handball, water polo, fencing. The best part of watching them is learning how they’re played as you watch. You get invested, and even if America’s not in it anymore, you still care.

What’s there to figure out about most Winter games? You go downhill. Maybe do a flip. Maybe, on very rare occasions, shoot a gun. But curling offers that same kind of fun.

And, America or no America, I’ll be glued to my TV next Saturday for the gold medal game. And by then, I’ll at least know what’s going on.

— If they sold curling jerseys, Reid would buy a Calgary WC Cheryl Bernard one. He can be reached at andyreid@umich.edu.