Earlier this year I was engrossed with coverage of the winter Olympics in Vancouver, specifically the curling. Part of the reason was because there was a family member in the men’s team (Pete Smith is married to my cousin).
But the main reason was because the game is addictive. I once interviewed one-time world champion curler, Hammy MacMillan who described the sport as ‘chess on ice’. It’s the strategy and game plan that is fascinating, add to that the physical and technical demands and what you get is a deceptively exciting sport.
And so, I decided to give it a go myself. Secretly dreaming of joining Team GBR and claiming gold in the winter Olympics with a Rhona Martin inspired rallying cry of “Huuuuuuuuuurray”.
Rhona was skip (that’s curling lingo for captain) to the ladies GBR Team that clinched gold in Salt Lake in 2002 and consequently launched curling somewhat closer to the sporting spotlight.
While Martin avoided the limelight, current skip, Eve Muirhead aged just 20 is media savvy and appears regularly on TV screens.
Anyhoos, inspired by Scotland’s young curling sensation I took to the ice at a beginners course at Murrayfield Ice Rink.
There was an eclectic mix of folk which probably closely mirrored the dynamics of an AA meeting. We had the mandatory sticky labels with our names scribbled on and avoided introducing ourselves, trusting that the peeling label had done the job.
“Nice shot” was a rare comment, not because we were impolite, but because collectively we were crap, other than a blistering final shot by ‘a girl’ (the label didn’t succeed here) on my opposing team.
My particular highlight was when Gavin (providing the label hadn’t lied) attempted to sweep a stone into the house and mid-elbow grease moment his legs flipped from under him. They extended towards the roof and his back seemed to bounce on the ice as though it was a trampoline and he was upright and sweeping again within an instant.
It was hilarious. Please note Gavin was not seriously hurt.