Tag Archives: curling

Afterthoughts: Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games

My Olympic Fever has faded, and my Paralympic Hangover has passed. The city has more or less returned to normal. No more concerts or crowded streets. No more flag waving and fireworks. No more singing “Oh Canada, we stand in line for thee!” All in all, it was an amazing thing, being in an Olympic city.

I got more information about the protests and riots from Twitter than from CTV News. Yes, there was a mild riot in which some masked hoodlums busted display windows at the Hudson Bay store downtown. This act of vandalism did nothing to further the concerns or causes of those who protested peacefully. With the amount of money thrown at prettying up the city, trucking in snow, and installing temporary attractions (among other things), somebody is going to have to pay in the end. And it will likely fall on current taxpayers and their offspring to share the load. All that money could have been spent on social programs, schools, hospitals, any number of long term beneficial things. Oh, and they’ve raised bus ticket prices again to boot. Thanks so much, not really.

A number of restaurants around the city had a spike in prosperity, partly due to the practice of adding a 20% Olympic surcharge to each bill (see article at Spiffle). That was pretty sneaky . . . but people complained, especially the locals. During the Olympics, we went to Society in Yaletown with some friends, and yes there was a 20% addition to the bill. When we went to Earls downtown during the Paralympics, we asked our waitress before ordering if the surcharge was still being applied. She said they stopped doing it after getting backlash from unhappy customers (not surprising). We did have a fantastic lunch at Earls, by the way: Orchid martini and grilled chicken sandwich with melted brie, roasted apples, and fig jam. And dessert was ridiculous! Rich chocolate cake with caramel sauce and ice cream. If you’re going to go out for food, go all the way out.

The Paralympics were like Olmpics Lite. Fewer events, less uproar, shorter lines (the Zipline wait was only two hours instead of 7), and significantly cheaper tickets. We actually managed to snag seats for the USA vs Japan sledge hockey prelim and the wheelchair curling semifinals (US v Korea and Canada v Sweden).

The sledge hockey match was a lot of fun to watch, and very fast and physical. Athletes sit in a sort of single-track sled and use a short hockey stick in each hand  like ski poles to push off down the ice. Their arm and upper body strength must be amazing. It was fun being a fan in the stands that day. The US trounced Japan in the prelim (6-0), but the Japanese team fought their way back through the final games to meet the Americans again in the Gold Medal match (US won 2-0). Norway defeated the Canadian sledge hockey team in the Bronze Medal game (2-1).

Read more about Paralympic Ice Sledge Hockey.

Wheelchair curling was quite different than regular curling, as there are no sweepers. The Paralympic teams are co-ed, and the play was a bit like shuffleboard. It was my first opportunity to see a live curling match, and it wasn’t boring in the least. I suppose people are expected to be quiet during a match, but there were some great fans in the Korean corner, complete with a drum and a catchy cheer. I was really surprised to see both matches end in forfeit (which I don’t quite understand), but it was fun to sing Oh Canada with the crowd. The Canadian team went on to win Gold. Korea took Silver, and the Bronze medal went to Sweden.

Read more about Paralympic Wheelchair Curling.

It will take a while to see how hosting the Olympic Games will affect Metro Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia in the long term. It was all very exciting and dynamic from my perspective. I met some amazing random people and had a few rare experiences, and I’m glad for it. It’s time to retire my red-striped Olympic socks and put Quatchi on the shelf until the next Canucks game (which is tonight, by the way. Quatchi loves hockey!). Now I suppose I should get back to writing about food and go buy some peeps for Easter. Smeeps ahoy!

Olympic Curling: Hurry Hard Canada!

Canadian Men’s Curling Team wins opener vs. Norway Harlequins!

Fans rockin' the Norway pants! ~ photo by kennymatic @ Flickr

Really, you must have a look at the pants made by ~ Loudmouth Golf ~ I am very fond of the Shagadelic pattern, but the Norwegian Curling Team’s uniforms are just the bee’s knees!

Yesterday I was roving downtown, watching the people walk by dressed in the colours of their particular countries. So much red and white and blue, and the occasional splash of yellow, green, orange. Stripes and dots and swirls and sparkles, and all these great patterns go walking by, sometimes with sparkles and feathers and balloon hats. There’s music in the air from concerts along the Yaletown stroll, featuring local Vancouver artists. Woo and Yeah are out in record numbers, and the Canadian National Anthem, I Believe, and that “like a waving flag” song are invading my dreams. And everybody is having a good time. It’s like an enormous street festival from one end of town to the other.

Hockey fans sporting Puckheads at the Torino Olympics (by A tee but no e @ Flickr)

While I was literally watching the world go by, here came a man wearing a curling stone hat. It even had a little handle on the top! It’s like a Puckhead, only it’s a curling thing. My sister is a big fan of curling. I’m still trying to figure it out. Curling has a huge following across Canada, and it’s been fun watching the coverage of the games.

According to the Olympic Curling info from VANOC, the game was invented some 500 years ago by people living around frozen lochs in Scotland, where life before TV was hard and there wasn’t a lot of fun to be had unless you made it yourself. I suspect the invention of this game was instigated by one ice fisherman who said to another, “I bet you can’t hit that ice hole with a rock.”

The playing field is called a sheet, and at one end of the sheet is a target area of concentric circles known as the house. Play is reminiscent of bocce (lawn bowling) or shuffleboard, as the object is to get your rocks in the house (i.e. on the target, preferably on the bull’s eye) and knock your opponent’s rocks out. One game is divided up into 10 ends (kinda like how baseball has 9 innings). During each end, each team has 8 rocks to throw, and each person on a team of four gets to throw two rocks.

Once a team member throws a rock, his (or her) team members can use their brooms to sweep the path in front of the sliding rock to change its direction and speed, making it “curl” so that it gets as close as possible to the middle of the target (the center of the rings at the other end of the sheet). You’ll hear the skip (team captain) yelling “Hurry!” or “Hurry hard!” to tell the sweepers to get a move on. “Woah!” means stop sweeping.

~ 2010 Olympic Curling Schedule and Results ~

Tonight we’re watching women’s curling (Canada vs China) and a movie called Men With Brooms. The other day we watched men’s figure skating and Blades of Glory. I haven’t cooked anything but cereal in two days. But it’s been a great party so far!

Curling Terminology

VANOC has a useful glossary of curling terms. There are strange names for just about everything related to the game; it’s funny that the stick used to measure rock distances is simply called a “measuring stick.”

Rock ~ the big ice puck with the handle.

Hammer ~ It’s good to have the hammer. It means you get the last shot in the end.

Skip ~ The team boss. Does a lot of yelling at the sweepers and usually throws the last two rocks for the team in each end.

House ~ The target area of circles, divided into quadrants. The center ring is the button (aka bullseye). The more stones you have in the house, the more points you get.

Hack ~ The bar used to push off when a player slides a rock.

Hog Line ~ A player has to release the rock before they get to this line on the sheet.

~ GO CANADA GO ~

Flickr Creative Commons
Loud and Proud by kennymatic
Puckheads by A tee but no e