There are days when it really pays to have a Canadian heritage and one of those days was today. Maggie Doone, One-Eyed Louie and I walked into the Palace Saloon this afternoon and immediately became the center of attention because Olympic Curling was on the TV and we understood the rules.
It happens every four years. Americans, especially those not from Minnesota, who otherwise wouldn’t know curling from tossing a caber suddenly go nuts over curling. And NOBODY here understands the rules. Curling is a great game where teams slide 44-pound granite rocks 90 feet down a sheet of ice and try to get the rock as close to the bulls eye as possible. Who else could invent this except the Scots, who also brought you Sheaf Tossing, golf and drinking, all of which are noble sports.
I find the four-year curling frenzy to be amazing. Why does curling become so suddenly popular only to fade away after the Olympics are over? Is it because the game is so unknown in Southern climes? Is it because the game is of skill and strategy, not strength and brawn, equally played by men and women? Or maybe because, unlike every other Olympic game, curling gets more interesting the slower it goes?
I tried to find a good curling photo but everything from the Olympics that was online was protected or in some format that I couldn’t use. Instead I bring you this photo (courtesy of the Canadian Curling Association) of the Canadian Women’s Team in the 1920s. They all look oddly like Mrs Gulch from the Wizard of Oz but I’m sure they were formidable athletes in their time. Athletes with awesome hats.
So, how much did it pay at the Palace this afternoon to understand the rules of curling? Today it paid two free beer. And as any Canadian will tell you, that’s pretty good pay. Sweep! Sweep!