Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I LOVE the Olympics!! These Winter Olympics has me thinking not of the nearby Vancouver BC, but of Northern Michigan!
I love both the summer and winter Olympics, and even competed and closely followed gymnastics as a kid. But after living in Northern Michigan, I've been favoring, more and more, the Winter Olympic sports. And curling is a sport that the town of Lewiston, where we lived, is well known for. Right there in town is one of the few curling clubs in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the Lewiston Curling Club. Unlike gymnastics, the sport of curling can be played well into adulthood and even well into the senior years. I joke that I have gills behind my ears, since I grew up in Louisiana, but my boys both definitely have what I like to call "ice legs", after spending a big chunk of their childhood in Michigan. They're not alone. Many of the Winter Olympic athletes I've been watching on TV are also from Michigan. With a winter season that is so long, it's no wonder. Hockey clubs, ice skating and local ski hills are sprinkled liberally all over the state. We learned to love all winter sports while living there, and I sorely miss them now. Oregon does have some winter sports, but in no way does it even come close to matching the ease and accessibility they have in Michigan.
Curling involves "throwing", or sliding a large granite rock towards a target on a sheet of ice. It reminds me of shuffleboard more than any other sport. Team mates sweep a broom in front of the rock to help control it's speed and direction. Oh, and did I mention that the curlers wear a special shoe on one foot that actually makes them slide EASIER? The ice is specially prepared, and is different than traditional ice rink ice. It is finely sprinkled with water droplets and the stone actually rides on top of those ice beads. What I don't know about curling is far greater than what I do know, and as I watched my son practice, I started gaining a finer appreciation of the sport of curling. I would be leaving out an important aspect of the sport if I failed to mention that the sport of curling has to be the most social sport of any winter games, if not summer as well. Loaded with all of this relatively new information and appreciation of the sport, I'm a bit let down at how little coverage it gets on TV.
I always wanted to try curling, but didn't grow up with "ice legs", as my kids did. I took so many nasty falls on ice just trying to get across the parking lots. It took a real effort on my part, as an adult, to learn even how to walk on ice... taking those tiny "shuffle steps", keeping an eye on the ground, carefully looking for that bit of snow or sand to step on to provide a bit of added traction. But I knew that it was the perfect time to get my kids involved in these sports. My oldest was able to take a few months of curling lessons, and both kids learned how to down hill ski while we were there, at the local Treetops Resort, near Gaylord, MI. I even mastered (ha!) the "snowplow" on the bunny hill and am still incredibly grateful for my son's school teacher for teaching me during the school's "ski club" outings, in exchange for chaperon duties. Both boys and I really want to learn how to snowboard, and plan to maybe next winter when we hopefully have a bit more flexibility in the family budget.
So what about you? What are your favorite Winter Olympic Events?