08 February 2014

I Really Want To Go To Sochi - And It Isn't Just About Curling

The first Olympics I remember are the 1980 Games in Lake Placid.  ABC had a lot of coverage, covering all the sports.  Of course, curling wasn't an Olympic sport back then - I first saw that during the 1988 Olympic coverage from Calgary, when it was a demonstration sport - but the whole event was fascinating to me.

Ever since, I have followed every single Games, Winter and Summer.  Yes, even the 1980 Summer Games.  I was 8, and the only coverage was a little blurb on the evening news.  Worst thing Jimmy Carter ever did was declare the boycott on those Games.  All he did was make the 1988 Games in Seoul that much more important.

I worked for EDS, at Xerox, in 1996.  During those Summer Games, in which Xerox was an official sponsor, there were planes traveling from Rochester to Atlanta daily.  Clearly, they were there for the important people, and not peons like me, but that didn't stop me from trying to get on a flight.  I failed, but I vowed then to make sure I got to the next Games in the States.

That would be 2002, in Salt Lake City.  I didn't get there, either.  I did, however, start curling that year, but that's another story.  But I vowed I would get to the next close Olympics.

I almost made it, too.  I don't think I need to belabor the story of The Pants any more - not right now, anyway - but opportunities presented themselves.  I had event tickets, a place to stay, even plane tickets and ground transportation.... but no flights at all were available.  So I didn't make it.

This is what I just said on Twitter.
I meant it.  And yes, The Pants are an obvious reason why.  I do want to see what I believe is the greatest curling competition ever (I don't want to hear it about the Brier or Scotties.  This is the freaking Olympics, and Team Jones and Team Jacobs chose the Olympics (and Team Homan would have)).

But I would love to see the ski jumping.  And alpine skiing.  And those crazy X-Games wannabe freestyle events.  And especially figure skating. 

I visited the Olympic Museum in Lake Placid last fall.  It was awesome.  The outdoor speed skating oval was impressive.  I got to see the ice where the United States beat Russia.  I got to see Neal Broten's Olympic credentials, complete with cowboy hat. And a whole lot of torches and posters.

A whole lot of official Olympic posters
It was all something of a religious experience for me. You see, I love the Olympic movement - always have - and what it represents - harmony, peace and friendship where none seeming should exist.  The athletic competition is second-to-none, with great underdogs qualifying in many events. 

And we all have favorite athletes of Games past.  For me, the list is long and won't all be names you remember.... Eric Heiden.... Michael Edwards.... Elizabeth Manley.....Brad Gushue.....(all Winter Olympians, and you get bonus points if you can correctly identify their Games, event, country, and placement in event).

So I want to be there in person.  I need to be there in person.  I will be there in person.  Maybe not in Sochi.  Maybe in Rio in 2016 - a Summer Games.  Maybe in Pyeongchang in 2018.  Maybe in Oslo in 2022 - I really think they will win.  Or Lake Placid in 2026.

But I would love to go right now.  I would love to see it.  I would love to be part of it.  And if I had the chance, I would drop everything and go.  

By the way -

Heiden - 1980 speed skater for the US.  He won five golds.  You all knew him.  
Edwards - 1988. Ski jumper for Great Britain.  You knew him as Eddie "The Eagle".  He didn't medal.  He came in last
Manley - 1988.  Ladies figure skating, Canada.  Sick as a dog in front of her home country, she very unexpectedly won silver.   No one saw that coming.
Gushue - 2006.  Curling, for Canada.  Gold.  Canada's first modern gold in a sport they generally dominate.

07 February 2014

"Why Aren't You Rooting for the United States, You Socialist?"

It's the most common question I've heard over the last two weeks.

"Why aren't you rooting for the United States?  You should be rooting for your home country!"

Even before I get to answer.  They don't have to ask who I am rooting for, after all - I think I've made that pretty clear, or so it seems.  My page does give me a really good, strong reason to root for Team Ulsrud of Norway.  And, really, who wouldn't root for these pants?

Even Ellen called them "pimps"

17 October 2012

A New Season, With Stability

Well, this is a new curling season.  I have new pants.  I have a new broom.

And, for the first time in about a decade, I don't have a new team.  My team this year - for league play, anyway - is the same team I ended last season with.  And I feel good about this.  We finished strong, and I spent my summer studying strategy.

It's good to have a stable team.  I know how each member of my team will throw.  I know my lead will put up two fantastic guards, every time.  I know my 2nd will throw takeout weight when she needs to.  I know my vice will draw right where he needs to.

And I know my skip will lose games for us.  That's OK.  I'm the skip.

10 April 2012

The Best Curling Video Game Stars An Italian Plumber And A Blue Hedgehog?

Given the lack of curling ice over the summer in the Northeastern United States (or at least my access to it), I have taken to practice my curling strategy using the great medium that is video gaming.  Here's the problem - no one has figured out how to make a truly great curling video game.

07 April 2012

Curling Season Is Almost Over.... Or Is It?

For many of my readers, curling season has ended.  Many more of you are seeing the season winding down.  The women's World Championships are done, and the finals of the men's Worlds are coming in just a few short hours.  Next week, the Player's Championship, the culminating event of the Grand Slam of Curling season, is coming.  Many of our clubs have gone to slush, or will in the next two weeks.  My home club goes to slush on April 21st.

Curling is done for the year, or is very nearly so. At least, that's what conventional wisdom says. But here in the US, it's not exactly true.

11 March 2012

A Wicked Guilty Pleasures Special Cross-Post!

As many of you know, this is not my only blog.  I have a little blog that is dedicated to musical Wicked Guilty Pleasures that I co-author with my friend, Scott Colvin.  Today, I posted the 2nd tribute to great songs about curling. The first was a spotlight on the song "Tournament of Hearts" by The Weakerthans, the greatest song ever written about curling, to coincide with the end of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Today, to celebrate the end of the Brier, I posted this spotlight on the 2nd greatest song ever written about curling, Johnathan Coulton's "Curl".  You can certainly go read about this on my other blog - and please do - but I wanted to make it easy for you to see this one.  So, to that end, here it is, in its entirety!

06 March 2012

Sheet A

I fell while curling last night. I don't fall much anymore, but every once in a while, I can and do slip a little bit.

This wasn't a little slip. This was a spectacular flop on my back. I hit the ice hard, and kicked a stone (at rest, not on the move), sending it airborne. I didn't hit my head, thankfully, but my back and elbow were sore, as was my toe (from kicking a stone) and my pinky. And it knocked the wind out of me for a moment.

I continued to play - I lost, but I wasn't going to let my fall be the reason why. And today, my pinky, ankle, and neck are sore, but I am otherwise OK.

I was playing on Sheet A.

My second week curling, ten years ago, I was sweeping a stone with a fellow curler, Ben Emerson - he has since passed away - on Sheet A. He fell spectacularly on his back. He did hit his head - as I recall, there was blood - and that ended his season. It nearly ended his curling career, right when it had started.

I don't like Sheet A. I can't avoid playing on it, but I get bad feelings every time I play there. Not only are there several injuries in its history, it plays funny. Rocks curl sharply towards the wall, as if there are magnets attracting them there.

And yet, I usually play well there. I've learned its foibles, and I'm usually extra careful there. I tell my team to be careful there as well.

But, as I learned - or, rather, was reminded - last night, curling can be a dangerous sport. I had gotten comfortable with Sheet A, and I let my guard down. But I kept my head up, literally and figuratively. Even though I lost my match, I feel Sheet A and I have a working relationship now.

Until Sheet A trips me up again. Then all bets are off.