Welcome to the Olympics. You're my third skating partner so far. Can you pull off the throw triple axel if I give you a firm, strong toss? No matter. I'm just excited that you've hopped on the curling bandwagon.
I first discovered the thrill of curling during the Salt Lake Games. You're totally right that it's unlike any other Olympic event. For one, the American curlers dress in what appear to be Haggar slacks. Half of our athletes (including those straw-haired, apple-cheeked sisters you mention) hail from the same tiny town, named Bemidji, in Minnesota. I gather that Bemidji is the steam-hot, piston-thumping heart of American curling. I might need to visit.
It's the sport itself, though, that has really transfixed me. It features the collision physics of billiards mixed with the spin-heavy, long-distance shot-making of golf. Those furious sweepers make adjustments on the fly—brooming harder to coax the stone down a straighter path, or leaving it alone to let it inscribe a tighter arc.
The best part of all is the scheming strategy. As has been said many times, curling is like chess on ice. These skips chart out their moves a few turns ahead. Sometimes they even forgo immediate gratification and instead establish a rampart of guard stones to wreak havoc with the other team's plan.
As I watched that U.S.-Japan women's match yesterday, it occurred to me that curling is actually like baseball in many ways. It has discrete innings (or "ends") in which one side has the advantage of acting last. There's the languid pace. The slow-building drama. And, above all, the dramatic, sudden reversals. Just as a single pitch can result in either a strikeout to lose the game or a grand slam to win it, one throw—and one fortuitous bounce—of a curling stone can reverse the whole course of a match. I could rhapsodize over curling for days, but I'll stop myself here. For now.
As for men's figure skating: Plushenko has the gold wrapped up. I can't find much to say about him, except that he looks like a cross between Adrien Brody and some type of animal from the Mustelidae family. I completely agree that the costumes have gotten out of hand. And also overly literal, at times. For instance: One skater was not content just to perform to the James Bond theme, but he also embroidered "007" on his back in sequins. (We get it, dude. You've got a license to camel spin.) As Julia pointed out yesterday, Johnny Weir, skating to "The Swan," wore a single orange glove representing a swan's beak. (I kept waiting for him to make aggressive squawking motions with his hand, clapping his thumb and fingers together, but sadly this never happened. By the way, Weir nicknamed his glove "Camille"—for no discernable reason whatsoever. Perhaps it's not just the Care Bears who are on acid.)
I have incredibly conflicted feelings about Bode. I'll hold off for a bit, though—don't want to kick the guy while he's down.
Hey, just now that U.S.-Denmark women's curling match came to a close. And the American women notched their first win of these games! They totally crushed those trashy-looking, big-earringed Danes. USA! USA!
Are you psyched for men's doubles luge tonight? Two guys lying atop each other, grunting with concentration. This is perhaps the gayest of all Olympic tableaux. Men's doubles lugers, a post-Brokeback America embraces you and your lifestyle.
Wish I could quit you,