Sunday, February 20, 2011

all about curling

Day 3 at the Olympics was one year ago today: February 20, 2010. And it was all about curling! I can't say that about any other day in my whole life...up to this point. The girls and I have big plans to start a curling team for the Vatican City and compete in a future Olympic Games. Only 2 out of the 5 of us are Catholic, but...we figure it's kind of like ice dancing for random former Soviet countries when you've never even been to them. The Vatican City would be lucky to have a curling team as rad as us, we'd be great for the image and the tourist ads! So be on the look out for that.

Until then, enjoy the following set of photos from my first day at a curling match, which was also my first day at an Olympic event. So coincidental. I'll narrate you through them so you can follow along (also because I can't help it), but for the folks who might be reading who don't know anything about curling (read: Americans), the basic ideas are pretty simple. There are 10 "innings" (called "ends") and at the end of each one, the team whose rock is closest to the center of the target (the "button") gets points. One point if you've just got one rock closer than enemy rocks, or you can score multiple points if you have more than one rock closer than the closest enemy rock. It's a strategy game, but in some ends, the teams just alternate hitting each other's rocks out of the target (the "house") until all 10 rocks are used up. Those ends are pretty boring. It's fun when there are a lot of rocks in the house and the throwing team does crazy curve shots. It's also fun when you're at the Olympics, because what's not fun at the Olympics?

Ready? Let's curl!

Curling Venue
We took the train downtown again and then switched to the Canada Line (how appropriate) to head to the curling venue, since it was in a random neighbourhood in Vancouver. Actually, it was in the neighbourhood where Jules, Chele, and I stayed with our friend Meg in 2009. So we were a little familiar, but the train wasn't built yet in Feb '09, so we were all turned around when we got down to street level. Fortunately, we were not the only people heading to curling! We were actually following the husband of one of the girls on the American team, so we followed him most of the way. There was a long line for security, but we were early and excited, so we didn't care, and then we began our tradition of heading through Lane F and saw our first glimpse of the venue. I meant to drive past it on my summer trip through Vancouver last year, to see if it still says "With Glowing Hearts" on it. I hope so...that's not the sort of thing I'd want to erase!

Olympic Flags
We took a ton of photos once we were through security, before we ever even went inside! But then we decided that we should go in, get some snacks, and find our seats. Our tickets said Row 20, and we joked that they'd probably be the last row. Sure were!

There were 4 ice surfaces, so 4 simultaneous matches. It was still the round robin part of the tournament, so all 10 teams were still in, and the two teams not playing when we were there ended up being Japan and Canada. :( So I actually cheered for the actual home team for me! Chele even had a Team USA tee-shirt. I had a Team USA headband from 2002 that I got for free with a Roots order once.

Team Denmark
I loved the skirt look that the Danish girls were rocking! I think I see super cute skirts in the Vatican City team's future.

One of the best things about curling is that the person throwing the rock often screams directions at the sweepers, who sweep the ice in front of the rock to make it go faster. This Swiss girl is probably yelling "Hurrryyyyyy" in German...or French. Or Romansh!

The Chinese team was way more into the yelling than I expected them to be, and then Christina informed us that they train in Saskatchewan with a Canadian coach.

Crowd Shot
The athletes weren't the only ones yelling! The crowd was off the hook. I think we did the wave more times than we did at Ottawa (skating) nationals in 2006, which had been a previous record for me. I also finally got to take part in a "U-S-A, U-S-A" cheer, since the American team recorded their only W of the tournament just for us. The "U-S-A" cheer hasn't really caught on at skating events yet, so it was my first time! I felt like I was in Miracle!

Jules and Me
In between exciting parts, we rocked self-pos in the back row. I also drank my first Molson Canadian beer and ate a hot dog. I'm not usually a meat eater, besides poultry and fish, but I felt like I needed a hot dog and a beer to really absorb the curling experience.

USA curler
Since curling is slower paced than skating, I had time to try to get some non-action shots. Not a ton of great ones from the back row, but I really like this one.

Girls at curling
After all the matches wrapped up, we dawdled on our way out and got to see the Canadian and Japanese teams practice for a little bit. One of the volunteers snapped a photo of us down closer to ice level, and yep, those red jackets behind us are Canadian curlers. We got our photos taken with future gold medalists!

Curling Rink
One last shot of the rink!

It took a while to get back downtown, because we had to wait in a line for the train, so it was starting to get dark by the time we decided to wait in line to get into Alberta House. That was a bust. They had food there, but they also had live entertainment at night, so when that started, people stopped leaving and the line to get in, therefore, stopped moving. We had a SUPER early morning the next day and a long train ride + drive back to our hosts in the 'burbs, so we decided to call it a night and head back. Day 3: huge success, but the biggest two days were still ahead!

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