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olympic dreams
there's hope for me yet.
by scott n. gaines

There I am, wrapped up with pretty much the rest of the world in watching the Olympics. Several thoughts come to mind as I watch the opening ceremonies with my family. Oh, what pagentry. Oh, what a spectacle. Look at the skaters. Why is that kid holding a glowing ball in his arms? Does his mother know what he's doing? Why do all the athletes look like sprinters? And finally, who are those people in the back of the pack of athletes that look like a bowling team that took a wrong turn?

I watched some of the events, both live and taped, and came to some conclusions. First, every single skier, skater, and whoever looked like they needed a good meal. Second, ice skating, unless there's a hockey fight attached, is good for a nice nap. Third, I can't watch skiers or snowboarders because when I do, they fall down. I don't know why this is so, it just is.

So there I was, in the middle of the Olympic Winter Games and I was bored. NBC insisted on showing me background stuff on people that I was supposed to get excited about, but couldn't because I already knew the outcomes of the taped sports. And the live events were, as I said, somewhat lulling in their excitment quotient. So I did what any red-blooded American male will do when faced with such a quandry. I channel surfed. And there it was, on CNBC of all places. Nirvana on the small screen. Joy and happiness in a very small place. A sport that while I didn't and probably still don't understand, I felt somehow compelled to watch. And watch I did. In fascination and with rapt attention to the slightest details. Yup. You guessed it. I had found...curling.

Ah curling. Such a fascinating sport. A shuffleboard type of playing surface, four players on each team, and big, heavy stones going back and forth on ice. And the players themselves, well these are my kind of athletes. Every one of them dressed in a Polo shirt that most closely resembles the same outfits you can see at the Syosset Bowl-O-Rama. Not a whippet-thin body amongst them. In fact, these guys looked like they just got their fourth order of Buds from the waitress. Now this is Olympic sporting at it's best.

I can't profess to understand everything that was going on, but what I could see was terrific. The teams get to yell back and forth at each other while they play. You send two of your own teammates down the ice with the stone you've slid to try and improve your shot. No one is working up a big sweat. Everybody seems to be having fun, even the spectators (who I am sure don't really know what's going on, they just couldn't afford to get tickets to Ice Dancing). I had my daughter sitting with me while I watched. She kept asking me what was going on, and I couldn't tell her. But we both agreed, this was a fine sport to sit and watch over cookies and milk.

No one has to wear ice skates, which would be great for me, especially since an unfortunate motorcycle incident/accident a few years back. Weak ankles and no grace leave me off the ice in anything smaller than a four-wheel drive, or maybe a Zamboni machine. The athletes (yeah, they get to call themselves that, after all, they're Olympians, look like they've gotten ready by seeing just how many Big Macs they can eat at one sitting. I don't think the words "running", "exercise", or "diet" come into the training regime. Don't get me wrong, these people are strong, the stones weigh about 42 pounds each. (I'm not that smart, I went to WWW.CURLING.COM and found this out) But they don't seem to make a religion out of fat-freedom. I even saw one of the players sipping from what must have been a cup of coffee or hot chocolate during the slow periods of the game. And there are many of those slow periods, in fact, fast paced just about never is mentioned in the same sentence as Curling.

Now I don't know about you, but I do occasionally dream of getting a gold medal. And since I can't afford to buy off a skating judge, and the world would probably take note of me snowballing down a ski slope, curling may be my ticket. So in 2006, if you see a middle aged guy on the US Olympic Curling team, and he looks like he's having a really great time, and is slightly less fit than some of the other athletes, well just remember, you read about me here first.


Born in Brooklyn NY, escaped to Long Island. Military service in the USAF (they thought I'd be a great air traffic controller. they were wrong). Became a New York City cop in the 80s when it was still fun. Interested in science fiction and country music, go figure. Interested in almost everything and knowledgeable about almost nothing, but I keep trying.

more about scott n. gaines


matt morin
2.15.02 @ 7:27p

I have to admit, I got hooked on the CNBC curling the other night, too. I loved when they showed how big a sport it is in Canada - complete with MTV-style promos and introductions on par with a mid-90's Chicago Bulls game.

jack bradley
2.16.02 @ 2:34a

"In fact, these guys looked like they just got their fourth order of Buds from the waitress. Now this is Olympic sporting at it's best."

Oh, Scott. That line is a treasure...brilliant!!

scott mcclure
2.16.02 @ 1:00p

Scott has captured the wistful dreams of glory that taunt us at the threshhold of middle age.

tracey kelley
2.17.02 @ 3:48p

Well, many other sports have been entered in the past 10 years. Perhaps bar darts and foosball have a chance after all!

tracey kelley
2.18.02 @ 1:37p

Heh heh - In Dave Berry's Olympic column today, he says: "To get it to move, the players had to sweep the dirt in front of the stone until they made a rut deep enough that the stone would roll forward, traveling perhaps 6 inches. In those days, a single curling match could take months. This lead to the invention of scotch."

adam kraemer
2.19.02 @ 10:22a

I'm just psyched for tomorrow's Skeleton. Let's hear it for head-first luge.

jack bradley
2.20.02 @ 1:05a

I'm with Adam on that one...nothing says "Sporting Event" like a debilitating head injury!

adam kraemer
2.20.02 @ 10:04a

I'm just saying that no one ever gets hurt curling.

jael mchenry
2.20.02 @ 11:36a

Oh, they could. Drop a 42-pound stone on your foot, it'll put the hurt on.

michelle von euw
2.20.02 @ 11:56a

And they have to run on ice. Didn't mom used to say never do that?

sarah ficke
2.20.02 @ 11:57a

And just think of the damage they could do with those brushes.

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