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True Story: Curling is a Sport

Dispatches from 'Couver


BW's Winter Olympics correspondent in Vancouver has been contributing to Cobweb at since just before the games started two weeks ago. In a post on Feb. 17, Sadie Babits wrote:

"Every place I visit in Vancouver, B.C., usually has a defining sound. Seaplanes and the Gastown Steam Clock are top contenders. I discovered both while working on a piece for NPR's 'Only a Game.' In Whistler, the gondolas and the shredding of snowboarders definitely characterize this ski town. Every place has a unique sound. Sometimes you have to close your eyes and listen."

Log onto the blog and head to "Sights and Sounds" for an audio postcard of Vancouver and Whistler just days before the Winter Olympics began. As the games got under way, Babits--with tickets she scored on ebay--checked out men's curling, women's speed skating and men's luge.

About curling, Babits wrote:

"I've never considered curling to be a serious sport. How can sliding a 45-lb. stone along a sheet of ice be a sport? What's up with these men and women scrubbing the ice with a broom to make the stone slide in a particular direction? Seriously. Curling, a sport and at the Olympics? No way.

"I decided I should check curling out before I poked more fun at it. I bought a ticket--where else but on ebay--and Friday afternoon, I sat for three hours in the bleachers, caught up in curling.

"Let's start with the fans. All 5,000 seats at the Vancouver Olympic Center were filled and each section seemed to represent a country. Switzerland was right across from me. I was sandwiched between Canadian curling fans, U.S. faithful and Denmark. Norway was loud and raucous across the curling field. So when Canada beat Denmark 10-3, the bleachers shook with Canadians stomping their feet and cheering. Curling, it turns out, is a big deal in Canada. In fact, the head of Canada's Olympic Committee told me that Canadians are either born with hockey skates on their feet or curling brooms in their hands.

"Curling is also about funky fashion. (Check out the photo of the pants worn by Norway's curling team. How can you not love a competition where argyle rules?)

"Curling is an intelligent game and it takes a lot of upper body strength. I was told by an amateur curling player that curlers burn 1,800 calories per game.

"So I've revised my opinion about curling. I'd like to try this game, which seems to be the one Olympic event that anyone could do. But I better try curling here in Canada where it's popular like American football."