Olympic curling still struggling to be taken seriously

February 13, 2014

Canada’s Ryan Fry, pictured above delivering a stone during against Germany Monday, defies a common curling stereotype one buff bicep at a time. (Ints Kalnins / Reuters)

As Olympic curling nears the end of its fourth day of competition, the sport is still struggling to gain respect. One Sochi-based reporter from the L.A. Times heard a Russian colleague getting ready to cover the action in the Ice Cube Arena say, “I’m going inside to learn how to sweep that broom real fast so I can make my wife do better in the kitchen.”

“That’s so funny, I forgot to laugh,” curling fans everywhere retorted.

But that’s not all. On Thursday morning, NBC Sports host Fred Roggin played to the curling skeptics while reporting on a hard fall taken by Russian skip Andrey Drozdov during the team’s matchup with Switzerland. “This should confirm curling is harder than it looks,” said Roggin. Possibly with a hint of sarcasm.

But curling fans — not to mention the curlers, themselves — already know the sport takes skill. Just because you don’t have to be in tip-top shape to execute the sport, doesn’t mean it’s easy or, worse, a joke. There are plenty of other sporting events that don’t require an Adonis physique: bowling, billiards, golf. When’s the last time someone laughed about Tiger Woods’s injuries? Or poked fun at a golfer’s equipment? After all, when golfers use those oversized putters, it kind of looks like they’re sweeping. And that’s hilarious, right?

But like that club and the motion used to put a golf ball in a hole, curling brooms and all that sweeping have a purpose, too. The sweeping makes a path in the ice that can control the direction in which that 40-pound piece of granite travels. And just like perfecting a golf swing, perfecting curling’s sweeping action takes practice and skill and it deserves a bit of respect. At the very least, give Olympic curling a chance before it inspires your stand-up schtick.

More Olympics news

Nicklas Backstrom trash-talked by his granny

Joss Christensen leads Americans into slopestyle finals

A viewer’s guide to men’s figure skating

Graphic: Winter speed demons (and curlers, too)

Farrington is surprise gold medalist in women’s halfpipe

Wise: Davis remains unfortunate exception at Winter Games

Dick Button agrees: Team figure skating needs to go

U.S. women’s curling on brink of elimination

Russia’s hockey team carries weight of a nation

Photos from Day 6 | Daily TV schedule | U.S. medal winners

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
Continue reading
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read

sports

olympics

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters