GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkWinter Olympics Poll
10:35:05 AM

With the Winter Olympics now going on, I got to thinking about how to make some of the events a little more interesting. I've set up a poll, just below the calendar on the right, to find out what my readers think about my ideas. Please cast your vote!

  • The Dick Cheney Biathalon Anyone who falls behind and tries to rejoin the pack can be shot by Dick Cheney. And at each of the shooting ranges, contestants must shoot a lawyer instead of a simple target.

  • Curling On Very Thin Ice Oddly, I've found myself watching curling on television twice in two days. I don't even understand the game, and the announcers aren't much help. It occurred to me that it would be a lot more exciting if the teams were allowed to attack each other with their brooms during play, but that's probably too exciting, so I settled on the idea of playing on very thin ice so that there's always the danger of falling in to contend with.

  • Razor Sharp Slalom Gates I've never put on a pair of downhill skis, and probably never will, but I do have to admit that it can be fun to watch people plummeting down a mountain with boards strapped to their feet, getting as close to the brink of being totally out of control as possible. Clearly, it's the danger of approaching that brink that provides the excitement, so surely it could be improved by making sure that a random sampling of the slalom gates are as sharp as a samurai sword. That way, "cutting it too close" would really mean something!

  • 500m Hurdles Speed Skating Track and field figured this out a long time ago. People running in straight lines or ovals just aren't exciting enough. You need to put obstacles in their way. The same goes for speed skating.

  • Add Brooms To Every Sport Again, I've been watching too much curling. But it put this idea into my head that there should be guys running in front of the Bobsled and Luge, sweeping the ice to make the track faster. In figure skating, the brooms can sweep away the fact that the new scoring system is flawed. In hockey, brooms would serve the added purpose of disposing of the lost teeth -- and they'd be even more useful cleaning up the torn and bloodied spandex after the 500m Hurdles Speed Skating.

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Comments :v

1. Scott Good02/16/2006 01:43:36 PM


First, let me just say you are one sick son of a gun but, sadly, I like that! These are very funny. What's most worrying is that I've been watching a lot of curling, too.

It might be that cute little strawberry blonde on the American team, but that's just me.


2. Bruce Perry02/16/2006 03:42:18 PM

I waver between the bialthlon and the curling on thin ice choices. I guess I'll go with curling on thin ice because we don't need the veep-bot to get any more of taste for blood than he already has.

3. Dan Sickles02/16/2006 03:45:46 PM

"500m Hurdles Speed Skating"

I vote to for barrell jumping. Havn't seen that in ages. Brooms could work there too. And take a hint from XGames and put all the downhillers on the slope at once. First to the bottom wins. It's called racing. Ski jumping: lose the style points...farthest jump wins. Freestyle anything: first one to the bottom wins

4. Stan Rogers02/16/2006 04:39:00 PM

Ah, curling. Used to be an almost exclusively Canadian thing. Not a Canadian invention, no, but there was a time when the (then) MacDonald's Brier was the de facto World Championship. Then we played some exhibition stuff in Europe, soundly kicked a few buttocks, and set the Europeans on the inevable course toward revenge. If it was just the Scots, we wouldn't mind so much....

The rules aren't difficult (or many). Scoring rules are easy to grasp. It's rather like horseshoes -- the team whose rock lies closest to the "button" (the bullseye) scores, and they get one point for every rock that lies even partly in the "house" (the whole target thingy) closer to the button than the closest opponent rock.

The strategic aspect boils down to this: it is easier to score if you have the last shot ("the hammer") in a particular end, and the team who scored last shoots first. Giving away "the hammer" is essentially giving away points, so if the best you can do is score one point, it's usually a good idea to try to "blank" the end -- that is, to make sure that neither team has any rocks in the house. That lets you keep "the hammer" for another end, where you hope to score two or more points.

Lately, there have been some rules added to ensure that at least some rocks remain in play (that is, they lie somewhere between the "hog line" -- the same thing you have on a bowling lane) and a line even with the back of the house. Often, these are "guards" -- rocks that are in play, but haven't gone far enough to get to the target. Those used to be meant to prevent the opponent from hitting ones own rocks or from getting to a particular part of the house, but the rule changes mean that you'll usually see a bunch of guards thrown early to protect nothing. (It may seem like I'm not a fan of the three-rock rule, but that's just a perception you're forming based on my opinion, not the actual opinion itself.)

The brooms? Well, curling was originally an outdoor sport, and one needed to get the snow and whatnot out of the way. It didn't take long to figure out, though, that one could affect both the length and the curl of a shot with a bit of judicious sweeping. The more you sweep, the longer and straighter the shot. It's a bit like adding rudders and a remote control to a dart -- you can't power your way out of a really bad shot, but you can make a marginal shot better. And you can throw a stone with a slow turn (something that would normally cause a tight curl) so that it goes straight enough to get to a particular spot, then stop or slow the sweeping in order to make it take a sudden, vicious turn. You can only sweep your own team's rocks until they pass the centre of the house -- once they cross the line, you can sweep an opponent's rocks to try to get them back as far as possible (usually to get them out of play).

Should it be an Olympic sport? Not hardly. It's a great game that can be played well by kids, say twelve and up, until one gets old and battered enough that crouching becomes somebody else's job. In the corn broom days (when the brooms looked like brooms and required tremendous energy to sweep effectively) there might have been some real athleticism involved. Today's game is mostly a matter of experience (having a feel for the "weight" of a shot and being able to read the ice) and geometry. It's billiards writ large. It is a game, not a sport. Fun to play, sometimes exciting to watch (if the game is good, you have someone to cheer for, and you know enough to play armchair skip), but hardly a shining example of "citius, altius, fortius".

5. Stan Rogers02/16/2006 04:40:55 PM

Um, "inevitable". Don't quite know what happened there.

6. Scott Good02/17/2006 11:01:11 AM


Wow. That was educational as heck. (You may think I'm thanking you but that's just your own perception based on my words.)


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