Jackie Hope: USA! USA! USA!
You caught the Winter Olympics the past couple of weeks, right? And not just the outtakes posted on YouTube, either. You know the ones: the double-your-fun two-throned biffies, missing their doors; the “Twilight Zone” elevator that swallowed valiant Olympians in one big gulp; or the gazillion tubs of undeliverable Team USA Chobani yogurt ripening in a warehouse in Newark, N.J.
Nah, those wardrobe malfunctions could happen anyplace. Just wait for Rio in 2016.
What we’re talkin’ here is going for the gold. The glory moment when Sage Kostenburg struck first gold in snowboarding, and became the first American to win Olympic gold — ever — in Russia. And our mother-lode medal sweep of the men’s slopestyle skiing.
Did you see former University of North Dakota forward, and current Minnesota Wild man Zach Parise, the captain of the men’s hockey team? And did any of you NOT see UND’s Jocelyn and Monique Lamoreaux, twins and Grand Forks natives, skate for the women’s hockey team, to help net the silver medal in the heartbreaking gold-medal game loss?
Who could forget watching Shaun White … uh, well, just watching Shaun White on his snowboard? Duuuude!
Know what’s even better than snowboarding? And hockey? OK, not better than hockey. But know what’s almost better than hockey? Curling, that’s what!
See, the official Olympic trials for the curling teams were held last November at Scheels Arena in Fargo, and that gave us cutting-edge fans — or would that be curling-edge fans? — an opportunity to watch the country’s best curlers. No, wait, that makes them sound like some Vidal Sassoon hair product. An opportunity to watch the country’s best curling competitors. There, that’s better.
We watched those sleek curling stones slip-slide across the ice toward a goal called the “house,” aiming to land on the “button” — which is the sweet spot, yielding the highest point score. And we cheered at the broom brigade dusting up the ice in front of the stone, looking like obsessive-compulsive groomsmen readying the white carpet for some super-posh wedding. Or for another Kardashian caper. Whichever.
Those stones really get on a roll. They’re fiendish thingies. Remember in The Beatles’ movie, “Help,” when George Harrison commented about a curling stone? “Look, a thingy! A fiendish thingy!” What, you don’t remember that part of the movie? You say you don’t even remember that The Beatles made movies? And you only vaguely remember your aged mother telling you about The Beatles?
Pardon me while I knock back a shot of Geritol and slap some Bengay on my lumbago. Just trust me, The Beatles popularized the term “fiendish thingy,” and plopped it into pop culture back in the Dark Ages, like the memes which now mesmerize Millennials. And, BTW, today is George Harrison’s birthday, so happy fiendish thingy day.
Curling, according to www.HitTheBroom.com, is so frozen into history that no one knows its birthday. Records of curling date from 16th century Scotland, and the rules were first written down by competitive Scotsmen.
Those “Rules of Curling” were adopted by the mother club of curling, Edinburgh’s Grand Caledonian Curling Club. Curling slid its way into Europe and, by the 18th century, competitive curling had iced its position in the sporting world. In fact, curling was one of the competitions at the very first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, in 1924.
The first curling club in America was Detroit’s Orchard Lake Curling Club, organized in 1832. See, there was this boatload — literally — of Scottish farmers who were shipwrecked on the shore of Detroit’s Lake St. Clair, while on their way to Chicago. Somebody hooked too sharp of a left turn on the way between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. Anyway, these farmers decided Detroit was as good a place as any to curl up, so to speak, so they hauled out the rocks and brooms, and curling officially hit American ice.
Not a bad history for a 42-pound hunk of granite. HitTheBroom calls that stone a “repository of possibility,” propelled by the team’s “skip” and guided by two other team members wielding brooms, as if they were minsi Zambonis. Actually, the brooms do exactly what Zambonis do, but with lots less noise.
Canadian and Scandinavian teams historically dominate the Winter Olympics, and Canada has medaled at every one of them. But we grabbed a bronze in 2006. This year, well, uh, the men finished not quite last in the standings. Hey, they won a couple matches. The women? At the next Games it is a sure-fire guarantee they will either maintain their current position in the standings, or even improve a rank or two. Yeah, all right, they finished last. But still …
Now it’s time to curl up with a good stone and wait for 2018. Pyeongchang, here we come!
Hope is a humor columnist for The Dickinson Press and The Drill. She writes about everyday life, living in the Oil Patch and Twinkies.