Bargell: Curling craze takes hold in Summit County
February 19, 2014
For the last few weeks the Olympics have taken center stage in our home, where the chance to root for genuine hometown favorites nightly draws us into the Olympic fold. In a winter world of speed and spectacle, an odd favorite has emerged in our household. The mystique of curling has captured our collective family attention. So much so, the girls recently voiced a desire to join an international curling team, and have taken to designing appropriate curling uniforms. We're not alone, I hear. Just this morning I learned other Summit locals also are infatuated with the sport, including the Bill's Ranch Lake Curling Club, where tea kettles grace the ice instead of granites stones. Perhaps Summit will become the next Olympic curling training ground, providing a new breed of athletes to cheer on.
After ruling out snowboard cross as my next athletic endeavor, it occurred to me that curling offered the perfect opportunity to combine my extensive collegiate shuffleboard experience with a newfound, and often underappreciated, expertise in cleaning. Uniting the clean sweep with yesteryear's sawdust glory might be a textbook mix for this Olympic hopeful.
I'll admit watching curling seems as intuitively exciting as being swept into the fury of pro bowling. (No offense to bowlers intended.) It's therefore difficult to comprehend why I've found myself sweating over a tightly contested match between the Canadian and Russian women's curlers, wondering simultaneously how the skip can skillfully knock out stone after stone, while still sporting a perfectly appointed coif. And how they don't break their fingernails is beyond me. It truly is multitasking on an Olympic plane.
Although curling has been an official Olympic sport since only 1988, the sport's roots run far deeper, dating back to 16th century Scotland. Curling burst onto the sports scene about 1550, nearly the same time the Archbishop of Saint Andrews gave permission to play the back links. The coincidence of these two historic sporting milestones seems to confirm alien intervention in Scotland during the late medieval period.
Curling often is referred to as chess on ice, a metaphor that's easy to understand. Both games require an abundance of patience and strategy, and an understanding of complex rules that can be baffling to mere mortals. For now, taking in the unique grace of the stones gliding effortlessly on the ice, juxtaposed against the furious brooming of the sweepers likely will have to suffice until I get a handle on how the game is played — maybe by the next Olympics.
It's certain that tuning into the Olympics invokes bittersweet memories as I generally can recall our locale and the kids' ages when we last witnessed the major Olympic events. As the games come to a close later this month I will contemplate where our family may be four years hence. Our current curling enthusiast will be preparing to graduate from high school, and may not even recall her new-found infatuation with the ancient sport. Life surely will be far different when the curlers hit the ice in PyeongChang South Korea in 2018, but the ancient tradition will continue. It will remind me again of 2014, our winter of snowstorms and snow days, and the curling mayhem that briefly inspired our Olympic hopes and captured our imagination.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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