On the Broom

I’ve never been one to jump on bandwagons. Following the crowd is just not in my nature. In fact, if something is extremely popular, more than likely I will run screaming from it.  For example, I have never seen the movie Titanic, haven’t even read one whole page of the Twilight saga, and in spite of living in the smack middle of the south, I loathe country music.

I’m not saying these things are bad. They aren’t. They’re just not my cup o’ tea.

It’s not a conscious choice to avoid the things the rest of the world loves. It just somehow happens that way.  Perhaps my early years as a Sci-Fi geek somehow conditioned me to think against the grain.  I was often the lone girl in midst of Star Wars debates.  And while my friends were watching Dallas (original version) on Friday nights, I was tuning into PBS to watch Doctor Who (original version.)

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that while you’re tuning into the Olympics to watch the figure skating or snowboarding, I’m staying up to watch the late night broadcasts of my favorite Winter Olympic sport –  Curling.

My love for Curling began during the last Winter Olympics. I was home for almost the duration of the games due to a bad case of pneumonia. I was heavily medicated and miserable. Most of the time I couldn’t tell if it was day or night outside my window. I slept a lot, but after a few days, I was tired of sleeping. Desperate for something else to do in the middle of the night, I turned on the TV to ESPN 2 or 3 (Or Ocho!) and watched my first Olympic Curling match.

At first I was confused and certain my spiking fever had led to hallucinations of some kind. (Especially when the men’s team from Norway were playing. If you haven’t seen them yet, you should go google “Curling Pants”) But I soon came to realize that there was, in fact, an actual Olympic sport that contains sweeping. With brooms! It was madness! But it was also completely mesmerizing.

For the uninitiated, Curling is like shuffle board on ice. One team member slides the stone, also known as rock, (made of actual granite from Scotland or Wales, where the sport originated) down the curling sheet (long patch of ice) and tries to land the stone in the center target.  While the stone is moving down the ice, two other team members use brooms to sweep the surface of the ice in order to change the direction or momentum the stone.

It’s a complex game of strategy that involves offense (getting your stone in the house for points) and defense (guards placed in front of the target to keep the opposing team’s stones from getting in). There is constant collaboration between the team revolving around the amount of force and direction in each throw of the stone.

The game comes with its own unique phrases that don’t make a lot of sense.  Call it literary license.  “On the broom” does not mean you ride on the broom. “Losing the handle” refers the rock, not the broom. The matches are divided not by quarters or periods, but ends.

Oh, and there’s a lot of yelling! The women seem to especially like to yell at the stones as they travel down the sheet.  Kind of like I do when I’m bowling.

The sport of Curling has everything – history, drama, skill, strategy, and whimsy.  It’s out there on the fringe of sports with its own cult following. Less than popular. More than appealing to me.

So Shaun White, you’re awesome Dude. Evgeni Plushenko? You deserve every medal you’ve ever won.  But for my money, Curling is the sport to watch.  One day, I’d like to try Curling. If my body can bend that far down without breaking, that is.  

I think I’ll call my broom Firebolt. 


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