I am assuming that you are going to ask what Ice Chess is. If you do know, then I am assuming that you wish there was a place to play and learn. Ice Chess is more commonly known as Curling. Curling, which begun as a Scottish sport, isn’t the most popular sport here in the “States” but just a little north of us it is. Curling consists of pushing a granite rock while sliding across the ice towards a big bulls-eye painted on the ice 72 feet away. Your team may brush certain spots of the ice so the rock can move farther if slowing down. Basically resembling shuffleboard. Sounds somewhat of a simple game, this coming from a man who has never step foot on a “sheet”. If you are to engage in watching the sport, you will see that to just get one point takes a lot of strategic maneuvering of the stones. Having 73 minutes to complete all ten ends all to end up what looks like a baseball score. To put in easy terms, and end is who throws the rock first and who goes last, think baseball and how they do their innings. The 38 to 44 pound rocks are placed in the other teams way, placed so they can hit one off the other and the whole reason is to get as close to the cross-hair as possible. The sport isn’t new either. There is a drawing from 1854 in Perthshire Scotland showing what is to be curling and records dating back to 1841. I’m telling you, very easy to watch.
My interest grew last February during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Curling has only been an official sport since 1998, making this its fourth run in the Winter Games. I’ve always enjoyed the Olympics just for the simple reason that it only came every four years and the passion that some of these competitors have is amazing. These athletes bring your country together for three weeks and you really look forward to some, if not all, of the events. Curling is clearly a sport not advertised here. Personally, now I enjoy it and would watch on a regular basis. Vancouver wasn’t all to nice to the Americans in Curling. Although finishing first in the medal count, 37, United States didn’t even show up for the Curling event. Kevin Martin’s Canadians won gold for the men and Annette Norberg pulled it together for the Swedish women. The country that we share the continent with is who I think a lot of Americans were cheering for. Sheryl Bernard and her Canadian women really put on a show. Going 8 and 1 with the only loss in a very good performance in the gold medal game. The Canadian women were the team most shown on television.
The United States needs to pull it all together for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The chances that the Americans actually have in this event is miniscule. We have the heart, we have the drive, but it isn’t our sport to win. Sadly, we lack the experience of growing up near a frozen pond to practice on. Debbie McCormick, who is the skip for the American women’s team, is no Cheryl Bernard. Despite Debbie having a very good resume, participating on seven world championship teams, bringing home one gold and two silver, Cheryl is ranked by the World Curling Federation as number two curler in the world. John Shuster and and American men only had two wins, while Kevin Martin’s Canadians went undefeated. Our American curling teams aren’t strong enough to compete against giants of the game. We have finished dead last in men’s and women’s curling events in Vancouver. Any type of improvement right now is needed.
Advertising the game a little more would help. If the game was to be offered more in schools, it will produce more talent. With more talent comes more competition. The United States Curling Association needs to come together, raise money and sponsor some stones to teach kids and adults like myself to play. There needs to be a nation wide attempt to get warmer climate areas a chance to play. Seeing it every four years isn’t going to make it popular, just make it a fad. Finishing last in this event didn’t help either. Make it avaliable everywhere for us to play. Hockey has done this. The once Minnesota North Stars turned to a warmer climate in Dallas in 1993, only to become Stanley Cup Champions in the 1998-1999 year. It does not just have to be a cold climate sport. Football takes up half of the years Sunday’s, baseball takes up the whole summer. These sports are drilled into our heads. We need to see more of Curling to advance our chances in making this country great in another sport and advancing our talent pool.
We have clubs in this country for every sport, for every hobby and for every enthusiasts. Every four years we put a team together that this country is proud of. We sit in front of the television with our patriotic paraphernalia out, sometimes in the early morning, just to watch some of these events that we would never watch any other day. Figure skating, bobsledding, and Skeleton are events that I would never watch. Every fours though, here I am watching at 2:30 in the morning hoping that Tony Benshoof can win at Luge. Curling is an event that is relaxing and easy to understand. Honestly, one of the best events to watch in the winter games. It is just not an American event, which is okay. We can cheer for the country right above us. Personally, I am a fan of the 44 year old Grande Prarie Alberta native Cheryl Bernard. I’m not insulting Debbie McCormick and John Shuster, the resources aren’t here. Their teammates just don’t have the skill to compete with the competition out in the rest of the world. To the people who do know how to play, the competition isn’t here for them to advance their own skills to become better competitors. We need to get more of the sport around to help out the curlers who are good, so they can advance. So I am hoping, one day, I can find a partner and get my shoes, broom and stone and head off to Paoli and join the Philadelphia Curling Club, where I can learn to play and bring an Olympic Gold home to the United States.