Saturday 01 Oct 2016

More Olympics 2014
Bob Stark

"Why do they scream at the stone?

Anon


I saw the above question this morning as a response to a friend's Facebook posting, saying that after all these years he still didn't get the sport of Curling.

I confess to some sympathy, with that point of view. Many times, during a game, I'm thinking if I were a 'skip,' on the ice, I'd be going for the full Monty blast. Hockey's version of "Clear the track, here comes Shack." My game plan would be "Hurl and Hope.”

It's a funny game, Curling, with its brooms, hog lines and mythology. There’s the rum and coke set for women. The men get hammered.

Let's not forget that in certain Canadian tournaments you can eat Tim Bits or get some Scotty tissues to comfort you, if ya lose. How Canadian.

Many of the tournaments are 'Briers.' Seems 'brier' means, in one official definition, "a tangled mass of prickly plants.” Hmm or might refer to the people sitting in the stands.

Women leaving home, being independent to pick up a broom, go sweeping, and stay in "the house.” How liberating is that, yelling at rocks as if they were rebellious children.

For men, another night out with the boys manoeuvring their sticks, trying to get their rocks off and, if Norwegian, do a little cross-dressing while you're at it.

Hey, there's the obvious, and old sexual reference: when yelling at said rocks, the curlers, both men and women, do not quietly sing "get along little doggie," but actual do scream, "Hard! Hard!" I'll leave that one to the Freudians readers among us.

A few others compare the game to shuffleboard. I like that comparison but I think it also has parallels to chess. There seems to be a lot of strategy involved about when and where to put up blockers, when to go for 'the button', etc. Like a curve ball, and other wonky pitches in baseball, I still don't understand why/how the rocks 'curl' as they make their way along the ice, seemingly turning at the right time, like a baseball changing directions at the exact moment as it goes across the plate. Don't tell me about the physics - traditional scientists and amateurs have had heated unsettled debates over shite like this for years.

It's all voodoo hoodoos to me. Curling Gods, well and, maybe, in modern scientific theory, it is the effect of that someone yelling at them; some kind of sound wave, along with the sweep of the brooms that changes the atomic structure of the stones and thus alters their course. I'll leave that one to the Quantum Physicists in the audience.

Well, regardless, I have grown to enjoy the game more over the years, although I can't say I'm a fanatic. It is partly due to how good we Canadians seem to be at it. When ya watch more, you learn more how to appreciate the game and its players.

Currently, after going 9-0, the first undefeated team in Olympic history, Jennifer Jones is heading for the finals. Sault Ste. Marie's Brad Jacobs, after a slow start, has made it to the gold medal game as well. Go stone 'em boys and girls!

Okay, we are a Northern country but what's with our success on ice?

We're good on snow but with more mixed results, except for those new funny sports, where people ski down rails or flip in the air like pool divers or chase each other over mega-snow banks. Yabba Dubba Doo! Oh, to be a kid again, eh? Ya can even stick your tongue out and catch a falling snowflake; not to mention seeing the sunrise over those beautiful mountains.

My only complaint is that some reckless doorknob skis down a hill for a minute or so and wins a Gold Medal. In Curling, you play nine games just to qualify for the semi-finals. It’s the same scenario in hockey.

In any case, when it comes to 'ice' sports, whether it is hockey, skating, Curling, or drinking, we seem to be more genetically disposed to do very well, on a more consistent basis; ahem, even when the ice in the hockey arena this year in Sochi is quite frankly an embarrassment to the Rooskies, much like their hockey teams. Fifty Billion dollars obviously failed to ensure 21st Century technology would be used in keeping the ice surface at a professional level... including being level! This did not seem to be a problem at an outdoor rink in sunny California a month ago! Maybe that guy charged too much money or didn't have family ties to the Putin Clan.

If there's an upset on the ice hockey medal round, one might arguably be able to say, "We were bounced from the medal round.”

Well gulp! Gulp! How close were the Canadian men's hockey team to having that happen earlier this morning against Latvia!

Can you imagine the bru-ha-ha if we'd lost to the lowly Latvians, a team that played last night, played their second-string goalie, with their best player too sick to play!

I had to put the rally cap on in the last half of the third period to ensure our win; another blast from the point, finally beating that 21-year-old juggernaut in the goal. I’m not sure who'd have met the returning team to Canadian shores but you can be damn sure they would have had more than curling brooms in their hands! Ice picks.

Well, we survive to play them Damn Yankees in the Semi-Final on Friday. Just to remind, if not shock you they have Jonathan Quick in nets. Maybe some of the Canadian players who come from the Eastern Conference teams, hello, Sid the Kid, will finally get a goal in this tournament. Thank God for Doughty and Weber!

Well, the women on the mountain bobsledded slid to a repeat Gold medal today. I don't know. Is that on ice or snow? In any case, hurray!

Okay! It’s time for a drink!

More ice please.

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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