Tag Archives: curling

My first curling lesson leaves me wanting more. Pregnant ladies duel on “The Price is Right.” And the mascot whose head fell off

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So I may have mentioned a few dozen times on here that I’m fairly obsessed with curling.
OK, maybe not obsessed. But after watching a ton of it when the Winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City in 2002, I really began to love it and watch it when I could.
I know people make fun of it, call it shuffleboard on ice, and wonder how serious a sport it could be if you could drink beer while playing it (My retort: You could say the same thing about bowling!).

But I really like it and find the strategy fascinating. So of course this year I looked on the Internet and discovered there was a curling club on Long Island, and they offered one-hour “intro to curling” classes! Yes, I was excited. For $10, we’d learn how to slide, how to sweep, and most importantly, find out how heavy those damn stones really are.

Last Saturday the wife (a trooper, God bless her, she’ll indulge my craziness for anything) and I took our lesson. I had a blast.
The deal was, the ice rink was divided into different sections, or stations. And a few of us took turns going from station to station learning a different part of the sport.
So for 10 minutes we learned the art of sliding on the ice. I learned immediately that putting on the special shoe-covering they recommended is kinda important, or you’ll fall flat on your face on the ice. But the shoe-cover thingy is also slippery.

After a few tries of sliding from a kneeling position while pushing off, track athlete-like, from starter’s blocks, we learned to slide while releasing the stone.

Not easy. Not easy at all. I tried a bunch of times and I kept releasing the stone too early, and my stone pitifully rolled to a stop way before it reached “the house.”

Then we learned to sweep. This was my favorite part. They taught us where to stand in relation to the stone, why sometimes the curling teammates yell to the sweepers to go hard or stop, and how we know if we’re doing it well (I’d explain, but you don’t have all day).

Then our lesson was over, far too quickly. Of course, when they told me about an upcoming 2 1/2 hour class where we got way more individualized instruction, and then got to play an actual curling match? I couldn’t sign up quick enough.

Yeah, I may have a problem. There may be a call to Curlers Anonymous coming in my future.

**Next up today, I love me a good “Price is Right” showdown at the Big Wheel. And apparently Monday there was a pretty rare occurrence; on Pregnant Lady Day on TPIR (yes, that’s a thing), two women named Lisa tied twice in a row on the Big Wheel, necessitating a third spin-off.

** Finally today, a completely inane video that made me laugh all five times I watched it. Hoffenheim is a German pro soccer club that won its last game Sunday pretty easily.

Its mascot, Hoffi the Moose (of course), was excited after one goal in particular, and he had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction.

Poor, poor Hoffi. He’ll have nightmares in that gigantic head of his for weeks now.

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Jason Collins makes history and knocks down barriers. Some thoughts on the end of the Olympics. And the fine art of professional cuddling

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Sunday night, sports history was made.

Sports history that was long, long overdue. History that most of us thought would’ve been made at the start of this NBA season, not now, in late February.

But change moves at its own pace sometimes, no matter how much we try to force it along.
Jason Collins played for the Brooklyn Nets Sunday night, and played 11 solid minutes in the team’s win over the Lakers.

It can no longer be said that no openly gay players have played in the four major team sports in America. A giant, 7-foot tall crack in the wall of bigotry and intolerance was blown open Sunday.

Some people say it isn’t a big deal, that he’s just a 35-year-old washed-up center being called on by a Nets team desperate for some frontcourt depth.

But it is a huge deal. Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal makes the eloquent case here. Excerpt from the column:

“Yes: We are going to get to the point where it will no longer be a big deal. There will be other players who come forward like Collins and the college football standout Michael Sam and the MLS soccer player Robbie Rogers, and after a while it will no longer present itself as a major cultural moment. This is the way the world is going; this momentum in professional sports feels irreversible. The groundbreaking may start to feel routine. But it’s no reason to not admire the ones breaking the ground.”

Couldn’t agree more. Sunday was a great day for tolerance and acceptance in America.

As Andy Dufrane once said: “Hope, is a good thing.”

**Next up, something that should cheer up all you single, lonely people out there: There are professional cuddlers out there, who you can hire to hug and spoon with you. They’re called “hugging therapists.”

Yes, it sounds crazy. But I totally would’ve considered this when I was all by myself. Look how content these people in the video look!

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**Sunday night brought the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, and as always, I’m sad to see them go.
I know some people don’t care about the Olympics, and here in New York, with a million other sports stories to worry about, like Derek Jeter and spring training for the Mets and the continued abomination of the Knicks, the Olympics got lost for a lot of people I know.

But I love them. Every two years I get wrapped up in the bobsled and the skeleton and the crazy costumes and the swimming and the gymnastics and all the pageantry and heart-tugging commercials.
This year was no exception; a few parting thoughts from what I thought were a pretty entertaining Sochi Games:

— Boy that USA men’s hockey team really collapsed, eh? What a disappointment. Losing to Canada in the semis, 1-0, is one thing, but collapsing in the bronze medal game and giving up five goals to Finland? Awful.
— I watched some of the two-man bobsled competition and I continue to wonder what the guy in the back does. I mean, after the start is he just there for moral support?

— I think I’m not the only one pleasantly surprised that nothing blew up at the Olympics this year. Terrorism fears were all over the place two weeks ago, but the Russians did pull off a safe Olympics.

— Too safe, too, in one regard: I was really hoping at least one athlete who won a gold medal would offer up some sort of protest against the rampant state-sanctioned homophobia in Russia. But there was no 21st century Tommie Smith or John Carlos (look them up, kids, they were famous in 1968), and that made me sad.

— Finally, this Olympics has inspired me in at least one way: The wife and I are taking a curling lesson next Saturday on Long Island! (And yes, you’ll be reading about it).
I can’t wait.

An Olympic curling heartbreaker, the wonderful Vonn, and a kick-ass John Hughes tribute

Oy, so many things to blog about tonight, and so little time … I know you’re all as busy as I am so a bunch of quick-hitting thoughts today:

— Why I love the Olympics, Reason 467: Lindsey Vonn’s emotions after winning her

first gold medal, in the women’s downhill. If LeBron James or Derek Jeter lose a playoff series, they know they have next season. These Olympians have to wait four years to try to reach the pinnacle of their sport again, and the thousands and thousands of hours of training and suffering aren’t worth it unless you medal.

Vonn, who has had so much pressure on her in the run-up to the Games, since she was NBC’s poster-child for Team USA, came through with the race of her life. And then, after it was over, she wept and sobbed and embraced her husband in such a beautiful moment. (Though hey, NBC, could we have given them their private moment without filming it? I mean, it was great television, but a few minutes of privacy first would’ve been nice for them.)

— Julie and I were absolutely riveted between 6-8 p.m. Wednesday night, as the U.S. and Switzerland’s men’s curling teams battled in a great match. I’m telling you, this curling stuff is phenomenal. The strategy, the announcer guy Don (who has a fabulous Canadian accent and such a folksy charm; he’s like the Tom Bodette of these Olympics), the fact that there are timeouts (that kills me), the cool but enormous measurement tool they use to see which rock is closer to “the house” … it’s all fascinating.

Brutally tough loss for the U.S., as our skip, John Shuster, couldn’t quite do enough to lead America to victory.  It was our second-straight one point defeat; couple that with the U.S. women’s loss Wednesday morning, and it’s safe to say our rocks haven’t been, well, rockin’ so far.

— A brief non-Olympics interlude: I am truly blown away by how bizarre “Big Love” is getting. I mean, it’s bordering on the ridiculous. Still, I’m riveted. OK, end of digression.

— I have no idea how Shaun White does what he does. But damn, it’s awesome.  I don’t want to say he was up high on the half-pipe course, but three people boarded him thinking it was the plane for their flight to Seattle.

— The short-track speed skating continues to thrill. Good for Shani Davis to win again, and watching the women’s 500 late last night was awesome; there were four crashes in the prelim races; this sport truly is NASCAR with skates.

— And finally, I wrote about my love of the late, great director John Hughes here when he died.  For some reason I hadn’t seen this yet, but my old college buddy Rob Kalesse put this on his Facebook page tonight, and I was blown away.

If you’re a child of the 80’s, or just love John Hughes, this is five wonderful minutes that you’ll enjoy.

The Winter Olympics are here. Yay! And proof you can never win

Today starts the Winter Olympics, and I’m sure I’m not alone in being psyched. (Well, I know I’m not alone, because the woman in bed next to me is psyched, too)>

I’m a sucker for the Olympics, I really am. Sure, they’re wildly overproduced by NBC, and we don’t know who half the athletes are, and for about two weeks they’re incredibly important and then you forget about them for four more years.

But I love, love, love them. And the Winter Olympics, the poor, unloved stepchild of the Olympic Games, start tonight.

Can’t wait. Can’t wait, first and foremost, for the Olympic hockey tournament, which should be awesome. There may not be any greater pressure on any team, ever, in the Olympics, than the pressure on Canada to win the gold. I can’t wait for the speedskating, which I always find compelling because it seems so easy to do (just skate really fast!) but is so hard.

I can’t wait for the luge, just because it’s so much fun to say luge. I can’t wait for the skeleton, which is hilarious because it’s basically a guy soaring downhill by himself at like, 60 miles per hour. How much fun is it to see if he makes it, or goes crashing into something?

And of course, the Lewis family’s latest obsession, discovered in the 2006 Games: Curling.  I am totally fascinated by this sport, and yeah, it’s a sport. The idea that one guy lets go a 42-pound “rock,” then yells at two other guys to furiously sweep and try to get that rock at an exact point on the other end of the ice, well, man, that’s compelling stuff.

Sure it’s like shuffleboard on ice, kinda. But it’s also got crazy strategy and takes skill and strength and man, I just love it.

By the way, when I told Julie tonight that the first time curling will be on TV is on the 16th, she simply looked at me and said, “Yeah, I know already. I looked it up too.”

See why we had to get married? Enjoy the Opening Ceremonies from Vancouver. (And by the way, my favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies is when Bob Costas comes up with some random fact about a tiny country. “Matt, did you know that Lichtenstein has 14 bridges, yet only 11 cars? “No, Bob, I was not aware of that!”)

**So this cracked me up. John Robinson, an editor at the Greensboro News & Record, tweeted the other day that a reader called to cancel their subscription, because their newspaper was delivered.

The reader cancelled because she couldn’t believe that, with such a terrible snowstorm raging, the newspaper put the carriers in danger like that.

You just can’t win with some people.