Olympic Dreams

Olympic Dreams

Back in 1983, I was dreaming of my spot on the 1992 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team. I had just achieved my 6th star in gymnastics, an amazing back walkover, which is probably a one-star skill today. For many reasons, but most likely because 7 year-olds have a different interests every day, I stopped taking gymnastics and that dream became a little harder to flip to reality.

Not pictured: ME (photo courtesy of NBC)
After my move to Bela Karolyi’s ranch was delayed indefinitely, I set my sights on more manageable sports. I played field hockey through high school and rugby in college,  but my Olympic medal remained elusive. I watched the Olympics and thought how even though I could eat the same amount of food as Michael Phelps, I certainly couldn’t float afterwards. I could easily hurt my ankle like Kerri Strug, but it would most likely be caused by stumbling home from the Rugby after-party instead of from nailing my vault. I settled for a Barnyard Olympics win at Farmer’s Fair here and there and called it a day.

Enter the Winter Olympics

You know the feeling, you’re sitting in front of the TV after watching an Olympian land their triple-sow-cow-flip whatever and then the broadcast switches to curling. “Whoa… how hard can this be?” You sit up alert, push your beer to the side, and wipe the wing sauce off your chin. Those people are literally using brooms and yelling, which I do daily as a parent. That was it, my Olympic Sport! The only barrier being that I don’t have anywhere to curl or anyone to teach me.

Enter Sincerely Him

Sincerely Him and I were lucky enough to take a weekend trip in March. He called me one day to tell me he had found a fun activity for us to do while we were away. “CURLING LESSONS!” he exclaimed. Sincerely Him does not get pumped about many things that require him to have an active roll in meeting new people and trying new things so the all caps is important. His voice was full of promise and hope. Turns out everyone believes they can be in the Olympics for curling. So we booked it and prepared to spend the first warm day in PA inside on ice.

The Lesson

We both stepped on the sheet of ice picturing our medals around our necks in PyeongChang in 2018. First we had to be careful not to fall and crack our heads open, which was really the main rule they gave us. If you fall and hit you head, they must take you to the hospital, and ain’t nobody got time for that on a kid-free weekend. Part of not falling was wearing these grippy foot covers:

On your other foot, you wear a little blue bootie to help you slide. Of course, when you become professional and get sponsorship, I’m sure you get hooked up with the real equipment. We also had to grab these curling brooms to help the stone go farther:

The instructors were great and a lot of fun. We were split into teams of 3 beginners and one instructor. Of course, the other beginner in our group had dual citizenship (US and Canada) and had a US national team jacket for some other strange sport called “ringette.” Our Olympic dreams suddenly seemed in peril as she was raised in the land rink sports.

The instructors taught us how to release the 44 pound granite stone (the “rock”) and aim it to the house center, which looks like the Target logo. You put your feet in the hack, which is similar to starting blocks in track,to get started. You lead with your slider foot (blue bootie) and put your gripper foot in the hack. A team member called the skip stands at the house and tells you how to aim and release your stone by looking at where other stones are. The goal is to have your stones closest to the center and knock your opponents stones out of the house or block them from getting into the house. Once you release the stone, your other 2 team members will sweep the stone to reduce the friction under the stone, decrease its curl, and otherwise influence its journey.

Learning the ropes – real curlers don’t need the PVC crutch
Sincerely Him gliding away

Video of my release. Needs “some” work. For example, I let it go way too early and don’t slide even 25% as far as the pros do.

The sweep. This is done with a partner while the skip yells what you are supposed to do.

Overall Impressions

Pros:

  • Curling is something that seems like it could be learned at any age without much risk of injury. I can see some possible back pain happening with the sweeping, but in general, you can pick this sport up at any age.
  • You don’t have to be super in shape to do this sport. Now, you can’t be a slug either, but you don’t have to have 0% body fat and eat nothing but egg whites. This is more of a sport of strategy and skill than speed and strength.
  • Both teams go to a warm room and socialize with alcohol and food after. This is a really big selling point because even if you lose, you still have fun. Also, you can concede a match if you think there is no chance that you will win. This carries no shame because it allows more time for drinking, so it’s a courtesy really!
  • The Bucks County Curling Club did a great job of teaching us the sport and techniques. I highly recommend gong there, or to another club, to try this out.

Cons:

  • Curling is cold. For some reason, I thought it would be warm since it was inside, but duh, there was ice there. My bad.

Is This Medal Happening for Sincerely Him, You or Me?

So, while this is a medal sport that I am not ruling out, there are some obstacles. Namely, that I don’t have anywhere close by to do this. You don’t have to be a super stud athlete, but you do need the experience to understand the strategy and technique. Is it possible? Yes. Probable? No. But it is definitely the forerunner for my Olympic dream and rightful spot on the Wheaties box. In the meantime, I will hone in on the post-match socialization skills so I will be ready should I ever play a match. 

Until then, Sincerely Amy and Sincerely Amanda are the only members of our crew who have made it to the Olympics. Sincerey Amy volunteered and Sincerely Amanda took Sincerely Amy’s tickets to gymnastics as only a little sister could. If you volunteer, they make you wear a ridiculous outfit, but you can eat whatever you want and you don’t have to practice for hours on end.

Sincerely Amy at the 1996 Olympics, meeting famous people left and right.
Sincerely Amanda (left) cheering on the US in track and field

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.