Tag Archives: Olympic Games

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

Olympic Speed Skating: Men’s 500m

This is the Richmond Olympic Oval. During the 2010 Winter Games, 12 medal events will take place on the 400-metre speed skating track in front of up to 8,000 fans from around the globe. I watched the Men’s 500m on CTV yesterday, and the races were fantastic! Man, are they ever fast!

Flickr Creative Commons photo by adriana8_8

Mika Poutala of Finland burned up the ice in the first race (I like how he uses a down start). He had the fastest time of the night at 34.863, but after his second race he landed in 5th overall. Korea and Japan dominated, and for a moment it looked like Japan would be taking the top two spots on the podium. Keiichiro Nagashima had the fastest time in the second race at 34.876, but a medal in this event comes down to the combined times, and the Gold went to Tae-Bum Mo of South Korea. Nagashima took Silver, and the Bronze went to his teammate Joji Kato.

Visit the Vancouver 2010 Speed Skating website!

Side Note: Japan’s speed skaters wear superhero-style uniforms that make them look like golden Transformers. Awesome design.

Flikr Creative Commons
adrian8_8

The Olympic Flame: Bring it on!

On October 22nd, months before the Olympic games begin, a group of eleven women representing Vestal virgins (Vesta is the goddess of the hearthfire) gathered at the Temple of Hera to kindle the Olympic flame from the rays of the sun. This flame has been transported across the globe to Vancouver, carried by Canadian hands all across the country. The journey by air, land, and water has taken 106 days.

My beloved blurry photo of the flame being passed in Kits.

Last night, I caught my first glimpse of the flame reflected in the window of a local pub, and instantly began jumping up and down yelling, “I see it! I see it! There it is!” At the street corner, two torchbearers met, the flame was passed, and off it ran up the hill, right by me. It took just a moment, then that moment was gone, but the feelings I had stayed with me. It’s the first time I’ve really been excited about something in a long time . . . I don’t mean like “Oh goody, it’s payday!” excitement or “Hey look! Free cupcakes!” excitement. I mean little kid seeing Santa with a bag of goodies excitement. It was cool. And someone did give me a free Coke Zero and a hot cross bun.

This morning, the Governator of California himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, helped kick off the final leg of the torch relay in Stanley Park. The fathers of Terry Fox and Wayne Gretzky are also taking part in today’s final run, but the last torchbearer is still a secret. I’ll be watching CTV tonight to find out who it is.

There are demonstrations and protests taking place, and the torch is headed for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where street life is a harsh reality, half-buried under the glitz ofthe Games. Protesters have said they want to prevent people from going into BC Place for the opening ceremonies, but I really hope that doesn’t happen. As much as they have the right to be heard, so does everyone else have the right to enjoy this moment unhindered.

I have been ambivalent about it all up to now—strong feelings either way. It’s a huge hassle and money could have been better spent elsewhere, I’m certain. But the fact remains, the Olympics are right here, right now. And the world really is watching.

It means something. All of this means something. Despite all the crankiness about “inconvenience” and all the protests and politics about where Olympic money could have been better spent, all of this MEANS something. People are smiling. People are cheering. People are feeling good things inside. For the athletes who have trained so hard, for the people who have come to sing and dance and welcome the global community to this beautiful place, for the imports like myself who have come to love a new country, this really is a big deal. The Olympic Dream is real. Tonight, the final cauldron will be lit and that ancient fire will burn in the heart of this city. I’m ready. Let the games begin.

Olympic Torch Relay Comes to Kitsilano

The Olympic Flame has been on horseback, in canoes, on a Dragon boat, and has ridden the Sky Ride to Grouse Mountain. It has ridden bikes, worn sneakers, and been in a wheelchair. It has met the hands of athletes, politicians, Aboriginal chiefs, and community volunteers. It has been celebrated with singing, feasting, cheering, and dancing. In the flame is the spirit of the games, the spirit of competition, and the spirit of unity. It’s an amazing thing that is happening where I am, and I’m glad to be here to witness it.

Security has been heightened everywhere. The streets, the water, the roads, even the airspace is being patrolled, watched, and hovered over by people with tasers, guns, and uniforms. Yesterday, a couple of fighter planes screamed by overhead, and the noise scared me and the cats out of our seats. Completely understandable, of course, but unnerving.

Later this evening, the Olympic Torch will pass by, not too far away. I’ll be going out to see it, though lately, I’ve been vascillating between excited anticipation of the 2010 Winter Games and absolute dread of the maddening crowds and inevitable mayhem they will bring. And we still have not had any snow . . . it’s all back home with my sisters.

Visit Stories From The Road to read more about the torchbearers and community celebrations.