Lapel microphones reveal some bad attitudes in Olympic curling


Sweden’s Niklas Edin throws the stone during the men’s curling round-robin session 9 match against Germany at the Ice Cube Curling Center on Saturday. (Juny Yeon-Jejung / Agence France-Presse  via Getty Images)

Despite all the ice, Olympic curling can get pretty heated. However, no longer can frustrated curlers quietly curse under their breaths if they miss a shot. That’s because in Sochi, the curlers are playing the game with more than just brooms — they’re also equipped with lapel microphones, which are great for the viewer who can listen in on a team’s strategic planning, but bad for the upset curler.

For instance, although I’m not 100 percent sure, I’m pretty sure I heard someone on the U.S. men’s team say “s***” the other day. And rightly so. The U.S. men have been playing like the word I thought I heard more or less since the start of the round-robin games. The latest loss came Friday, 7-6, against Russia the team many consider to be the most beatable in Sochi.

Then there’s the case of the women’s British rink. Player Vicki Adams couldn’t contain herself while playing China on Thursday and was caught swearing on live TV. The team’s skip even chose to tweet an apology for what they called Adams’s “wee sweary word.” The tweet, however, seems to have since disappeared from the team’s account. Weird.

And most famously, there’s Sweden’s skip Niklas Edin, whose notorious bad temper has earned him the tag of “The John McEnroe of Curling.” Of course, most English-speaking fans of the game won’t be able to decipher benign Swedish words from the inappropriate ones.

Less elusive and scandalous, however, are the instructional shouts the mikes can’t help but pick up from the skips (curling lingo for team captains). Viewers are likely to hear the words “Hurry” and “Hard,” which are often combined to make the emphatic and loud exclamation “HURRY HARRRRRRRRD!!!” The louder it’s shouted, the more vigorously the players will sweep, which affects how the stone travels on the ice.

For an incredibly weird explainer of other words the skip says, check out this parody video the U.S. women’s Olympic curling team made earlier this year. Unfortunately, the team’s rhythm is about as good as their record. Out of the six games they’ve played so far, the team has only managed to earn one win.

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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.
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