2018-02-21 / Editorials

Crazy sports!

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

The breaking news from the Winter Olympics — that a Russian curling athlete had been doping — truly stunned me. Who cheats at curling?

Curling, as best as I can figure, is a hybrid of bowling and shuffleboard. On ice. With brooms. Curling looks like a sport you and your buddies would try after downing a case of Bud Light.

I love the Winter Olympics, mainly because it’s filled with all kinds of crazy sports that I would never attempt. When I watch the Summer Olympics, I think, “I could do that.” I mean, I couldn’t compete with Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky at swimming. But I could swim from one side of the pool to the other.

Let’s be honest here. The luge is crazy. Imagine what the first person to try this must have been thinking.

“Y’all watch this. I’m gonna lie on my back on this tiny sled and slide feet first down this track at 130 mph with nothing on to protect me. Woo hoo, this’ll be some kind of fun.”

Craziest, though, is skeleton, which is a head-first version of luge. Skeleton got its name, I think, because if you crash in this event going 130 mph, your skeleton is all they are going to find of you.

I also like ski jumping, where the competitors come skiing down a ramp, fly through the air and, hopefully, land upright on the snow below. Of course, I admit openly and without shame that if I attempted ski jumping, the result would look like one of those “Wide World of Sports” agony of defeat moments.

I was having this conversation with a friend this weekend, and she said, “But Mitch, you could go snow skiing.”

And she’s right. To a point. I did go snow skiing once years ago, and I was not impressed. I couldn’t figure out how to stop. I could reach the bottom of the mountain, which is the preferred way, or I could hit a tree, which isn’t.

But curling is different. I can’t stop watching it. I have no idea how it is scored. I have no idea what the strategy of the brooms is. But I feel like I could be a curler.

According to my research — which is different than what I normally do, which is make stuff up — curling was invented in Scotland in the 1500s. The research didn’t say, but I suspect it was invented by a couple of guys who lived where there’s a lot of snow and ice and who got bored out of their minds trying to find something to do when everything was frozen over for several months of the year.

“Rory, I’ve just got to get out of this house. I’m going crazy.”

“But Fegus, everything is completely frozen over and will be for several months. What can we do?”

“Well, I’ve got an idea. Let’s get a big rock and go down to the lake. We’ll take turns sliding it across the ice, and the other guy can use a broom to help clear a path for the rock.”

“Gregor, you’re a genius. Remind me when the spring thaw comes and we’ll drive down to the International Olympic Committee. They’ll be all over this thing.”

As it turns out, the invention of curling came just a few decades after distilling was introduced in Scotland, so it’s easy to assume the guys had curled a few glasses of Scotch before they went down to the lake with their rock.

But I could be making that up.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch. clarke @gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/ blog/ mitch.

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