Curling Is A Mind-Bending Experience
Are you as confused as I am about the Winter Olympics curling
competition? I watch and study what’s going on, trying to figure how
the game is played, what the real purpose or purposes of the brushes
are, and how you score or don’t score.
It feels like a mind-bending journey to nowhere.
Take brushing, for example. Does brushing in front of the round rock
cause it to move faster, slower, or curl in a certain direction
depending on which side you brush on? If you brush on the right side
in front of the rock, does the rock curl left and vice versa? How
dependable is this brushing principle? Does it depend on how hard the
ice is? And how come sometimes right after one teammate slides on his
or her knees and releases the rock as if it’s a magic potion that the
teammate starts brushing within a few feet of release, while at other
times they brush closer to the scoring area, and in other instances
, they don’t brush at all? And does brushing faster or slower make a
difference in where the rock slides? Is brushing the essence of
curling, causing the rock to “curl” in a certain direction depending
on where and how hard you brush in front of it?
I also don’t get the curling scoring system. While eating blueberry
Pop-Tarts, I watch a game for 10 or so minutes. Both teams take their
shots with the rocks and brush from time to time. But it’s not obvious
how the game is scored. From an aerial view, the scoring area looks
sort of like a minimalist dart board but there are no indications for
how many points you get for placing the rock in the red, white and
blue concentric ring circles. The teams take a few shots and the next
thing you know the game is over and they’re shaking hands. Who won and
why? What was the score? And how did each team score or not score? The
TV screen posts a score at the end of the game but it’s not clear how
those points were won and calculated. It would be helpful, maybe, if
the concentric circles had numbers in them that we as viewers could
see so if a rock stops in the red ring, for example, and it indicates
“3” that that team won three points. There doesn’t seem to be a simple
math system to this game.
I also don’t understand why sometimes one team will take their shot
sliding the round rock, yet while it’s still moving the other team can
wipe the rock off the playing surface. How come they get to tamper
with the other team’s shot? And how often can they tamper or what
conditions have to be met for tampering to be allowable? It seems that
any game in which one team can stop and take the other team’s shot off
the playing surface while still moving doesn’t make any sense.
Tampering should not be allowed.
There is a lot more about this curling conundrum that is confounding.
This is the hardest to understand sport in the history of the
Olympics. Most other sports are pretty straightforward. In the ski
jump competition, for instance, the winner is the person who jumps the
farthest distance. It’s clear-cut. Gotcha.
With curling nothing is obvious and the whole thing seems weird,
esoteric, and obfuscated. Slide a rock down a patch of ice, brush in
front of it sometimes but not always, yell and scream at the rock, try
to score points by landing the rock in a certain place within the red,
white, and blue rings but don’t indicate which part of the ring is the
bulls-eye or which one scores more or less points.
While I’m asking myself all these questions, invariably the game ends
and both teams shake hands with each other.
The contest is over before I know how or why either team won.