Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘It’s not like darts!’ Olympic curlers get prickly



‘It’s not like darts!’ Olympic curlers get prickly

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes competes in the curling mixed doubles round robin session against South Korea at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games today. AFP
Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes competes in the curling mixed doubles round robin session against South Korea at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games today. AFP

‘It’s not like darts!’ Olympic curlers get prickly

Tired of being the butt of jokes, Olympic curlers have hit back over accusations their sport is boring and requires little actual physical effort.

An ancient pursuit said to date back to medieval Scotland, where teams armed with brooms furiously rub the ice while screaming at an inanimate object, it triggers excitement once every four years.

But curlers at the Pyeongchang Games are fed up with armchair fans likening the slow-burner sport to Valium on ice or suggesting you don’t need to be especially athletic to participate.

“People tend to think that we just throw our stones, a bit like darts,” bristled Finland’s Tomi Rantamaeki, drawing a comparison to a game frequently associated with overweight pub-goers.

“The difference in darts is that you don’t move the ones you threw earlier,” he sniffed. “They’re not reading the game in the same way that we do.”

A strangely hypnotic sport, often referred to as “chess on ice”, curling requires patience, cold calculation and a beady eye.

But Rantamaeki and his fellow competitors insist that sliding and the explosive bursts of brushing also call for sinewy strength.

“We tend to look very relaxed because our brains are already programmed to move in those ways and get into those positions,” he explained, with no hint of irony.

“But for someone trying curling for the first time, it’s a totally new way of moving so their muscles will be at full power all the time, trying to keep them in that position.”

Still not convinced?

No sex please, we’re curlers

British curlers at previous Olympics have reportedly been ordered to abstain from sex during competition in order to preserve energy, such are the sport’s apparent rigours.

Canada’s John Morris claimed that even NHL superstar and double Olympic gold medallist Sidney Crosby was amazed at how tough curling was.

“A month before the [2010] Vancouver Olympics, the Canadian ice hockey team went curling as a team-building activity,” former Olympic champion Morris said.

“A few weeks later Crosby admitted: ‘I thought I was pretty athletic and then I tried curling. The next few days, there were muscles in my body which hurt that I didn’t even think I had’.”

“It’s something that looks very graceful and easy on TV,” added Morris. “But give it a go and it’s definitely a challenge.”

Curlers also claim they’re crazy cats, every bit as wild as those wacky snowboarders.

“Things are changing. I never thought I’d go on [The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon],” said American curler Matt Hamilton, who lost a mini competition on the host’s talk show partnering the popular comedian.

“That was Jimmy Fallon’s fault, not mine,” he wise-cracked. “I get pretty emotional out there.”

Meanwhile, Swiss curler Martin Rios is not a happy camper.

“One of my teachers at school would always make jokes – ‘You go sweep the ice’, things like that,” said Rios huffily. “Curling looks easy but it’s so difficult.”

Momentarily dropping his guard, however, Rios conceded that in fact the esoteric sport perhaps wasn’t the most demanding Olympic sport.

“Some do look difficult too, I suppose,” he shrugged. “Snowboard halfpipe – I’m not gonna try that!”

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration