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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How big of a loser am I? 

I was totally drawn into the Olympic curling competition yesterday. It is essentially a hybrid of bowling, shuffleboard and bocce, all done on ice. I was talking with a good Italian friend of mine this weekend, and we snickered together at how funny it would be to introduce bocce into the summer games. A bunch of short, fat, old, bald Italian men in leisure suits and cool wraparound shades smoking cigars and competing in the Olympics. Hah. But anyway, back to curling.

I now know the following pieces of curling jargon - Stone, House, Button, Draw, Skip, Hammer. Here's what I was able to gather: the team consists of four players per team trying to push their 8 stones (the 40 lb pieces of granite) down a smooth sheet of ice into the house (the three concentric circles at either end) and as close as possible to the button (the center of the house). Their strategy will likely consist of a combination of draws, guards and takeouts. The takeout tries to knock the other team's stones away from the button and out of the house, and the guard stops short of the house to make the other stones curl around it. The anchor on the team (called the skip) will direct the strategy and likely have the privilege of throwing the last two stones (the final one called the hammer). What is fascinating to watch is how the rest of the team will sweep the ice in front of the stones as they move, thus melting it and reducing friction and making the stone go further and faster. They can even change the direction of a stone in motion with enough sweeping. I'm still not terribly clear on how they score, but I think that you only get points if you have the stone closest to the button, and then you only get points for stones that are closer than the opponent's closest stone.

My wife is considering going out for the 2010 Olympic curling team. She reasons that she's missed her chance for gold in figure skating based on her age, probably wouldn't qualify for any kind of skiing sport based on her ability, and doesn't weigh enough to compete on any of the sleds, but by golly she could curl. I think she's got a good chance.

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Russ, I share in your fascination with Curling. I enjoyed watching the matches in Salt Lake 4 years ago and remember the first time I saw it in Nagano in '98. Have you ever seen the mini shuffleboard tables? I have played a few time. The besttime I had playing table shuffleboard was at my bachleor party. There were some intense games and most everybody who was there participated. I can imagine that the strategy it very similar to curling. We should plan the Delaware National State Alomst Curling (Table Shuffleboard)Championships. It may be the closest we ever get to playing Curling.



Question: Do you also find yourself drawn to C-Span?




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