Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 4: Moguls are the tiny hills that kill your knees.

I spent a lot of this evening watching the two US curling events that took place today - the women vs. Switzerland, and the men vs. Norway. As I watched, key words like “house” and “end” and “hammer” made me remember that in 2010, as I was writing blurbs about the Olympics, I did an entire tutorial on curling! So I actually read it again and am looking forward to my next viewing experience of curling.


For those of you who didn’t read the post back in 2010 (back when all my posts were just Facebook notes!), here’s the curling portion again! The boys I’m talking about are now fourth graders, by the way.


So I have been recording on videotape some Olympic events to take to my kindergarten class and show them when we have free time...and sometimes when I just don't feel like teaching. (Not like that happens often or anything!)


Yesterday we watched men's moguls skiing, and today I'd recorded the downhill skiing and snowboard cross. I recorded and showed these because those were pretty tough sports and I thought the boys would get a kick out of them. They did really like it. We pretended to be moguls skiiers and kept our knees glued together, and we went on snowboards, and we raced down a mountain.


When I had some release time today at lunch recess I just turned on the USA network and there was men's curling going on: USA vs. Germany. I was getting some other stuff done, so I just kept it on in the background. I have pretty much no idea the rules and points of the sport, but I know that if you get that stone in the middle of the ring, that's a good thing.


When the boys got back inside from recess I kept it on as they got their shoes on and went back to their seats. They started to watch, too, and had tons of questions about it. When I told them that the red stones and brooms were for the US, they got really excited and were really hoping that the red stones would get the yellow stones out of the circles. They'd cheer if it made it, and groan if a red stone got knocked out. I was pretty entertained that they were so interested in curling, seeing as they knew just as much about the sport as I did!


What surprised me the most came at the end of the day, when I was asking the boys what sport they've enjoyed watching the most so far. Half of them said something pertaining to "that one when they slid that rock and had brooms!" Really? We've watched moguls and snowboard cross (which I praised yesterday) and downhill skiing, and you would prefer to watch curling?


Hearing this news, I knew I'd have to do a little research. So I went onto the Internet, and found out that two teams of four people play against each other in a match. Each team pushes their granite stone towards the "house," or the middle of the target on the other end of the ice. An "end" is a delivery of 16 stones (8 by each team), and there are 10 ends in a match. Each player throws two stones in an end (so it's not the same person every time - I didn't know that). They push the stone and will turn the handle to begin the travel of the stone.


That thrower stays on one end of the ice and guides the sweepers, and the others use those brooms to guide the stone to the place they want it to go, make the stone travel farther, and make the stone curl. (Hey! Like "curling"!)


At the end of an...end, whoever has the stone closest to the very center of the circle gets a point. If that team has two or more stones closer than their opponent's closest stone, they get two or more points. I saw that today when the US women's team was playing Japan. The US was up 4-1, but crucial errors in delivering the stones meant that Japan had three stones closer to the center than the US' closest stone, so Japan ended up tying the score at 4-4. (They ended up winning 9-7.)


I won't try to inform you of the strategy, and the different places you could place your stones to "block" the other team's stones, or anything like that. But now you have a little better idea what is going on if you ever catch curling on TV.


Reading my 2010 blog posts made me laugh. There were some things I didn’t remember typing, but I do know that the Blurb that I did helped me to launch this website in September of that year. It was hilarious to see that the title of one of the last Olympic posts was “879 days till London!”


Mini Blurbs (which used to be called “Baby Blurbs”)


Pants and shirts: Yup, those Norwegian curling pants are really a sight to behold. But I have a problem with the US’s shirt choice. T-shirts? Really? At least make it a polo shirt to give them a little official-ness. It looks like they’re in a beer league. (Wait, that’s probably where some of them do their curling training.)


Today’s roundup: Men’s 500m long-track speedskating (live), Men’s moguls (live), curling, biathlon, women’s skiing, short track.


Integration! As the kids came to the classroom, the final run of the men’s 500m long-track speedskating was going on. We watched it, and I explained that they run two races and use a combined time to determine the final scores. The kids immediately recognized the orange Dutchmen, and we all cheered when they swept the medals again. I am steamrolling along in my medals competition!


We spent some time discussing the countries of Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands (AKA Holland). I gave them a hypothetical situation where if the Olympic rings could no longer be used as a symbol for the Olympics, what symbol would they create? I had some great entries - including a multi-colored peace sign and criss-crossing multi-colored lines instead of rings.


Finally, we had some fun with moguls. I kept track of the scores of the super final on the board, and we discussed how the athletes are judged on three categories, but moguls has the greatest weight (50%) than speed (25%) and jumps (25%). This allowed us to talk about percentages and fractions.


When the athlete was finished with his run, I would get their predictions. First, what percent range (60%, 70%, 80%, 90%) would his score be, and what place would he be in. They really got into the predictions, and I loved hearing their reasons. They knew that moguls were the most important part, so they ripped the athletes apart. “His legs came apart! His legs came apart!” When the final skier, Mikael Kingsbury of Canada, started hitting the moguls wrong and his legs came apart, all of us were shocked to see him end up in second! His speed was slower than the others, his moguls weren’t good, and his jumps were average. In our books, he got fourth.


The Bearded Wonder: Swede Per Spett participates in moguls, and he’s got a full-on Duck Dynasty beard and long hair - definitely not someone you think was from Sweden. He’s a little on the chunky side and goes down with reckless abandon, but his jumps are nuts - his final jump was a giant front flip that went over half of those tiny moguls! He didn’t make it to the final, but I hope you got a chance to see him in qualification.


Ato! Ato! Normal track commentator Ato Boldin - whom I adore - is covering the Winter Olympics this year. It’s as if NBC heard me say, “I wish Ato Boldin was here.” I wonder if they hear me say, “You know what this figure skating could use? Rowdy Gaines!” (he does swimming)


The Czech balance (like it?): Another medal for the Czechs! Clearly the Winter Games are the Czech Republic’s strongpoint. Biathlete Ondrej Moravic won silver.


Oh, you Wisconsin cities and your weird names: While watching speedskating on the online international English coverage, the British announcer said that Tucker Fredricks trained in “Wawn-ken-sher” Wisconsin. He meant Waukesha.


Speaking of Wisconsin: I got The Denver Post today to cut out pictures for my Olympic collage bulletin board, and I was thrilled to see so many color photos of Olympic events! It just reminds me how ticked off I was four years ago, because The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and The Wisconsin State Journal had AWFUL sports pictures of the Olympics. I checked - I did write about my displeasure back then, and I repeat it now.


I usually hate sob pieces, but… I love Alex Bilodeau’s brother.


SHORT TRACK! It’s been too long, my friend. How about Victor Ahn, who won for South Korea eight years ago? He is super tall. He’s the Usain Bolt of short track. And short track is like the Roman chariot racing of Olympic sports - everyone wants to see a wipeout!


And isn’t it awesome that Apolo Ohno is doing commentary now? He did great!


It’s amazing how everyone has really stepped up to the South Korean dominance in short track. I think that a South Korean struggle might not bode well for everyone, because in 2018 South Korea will host the Winter Games, and they will be ready if they fail this time around.


My weakness: When it comes to Olympic viewing, I enjoy many different events. However, I have a hard time getting into team events with “round robins.” This includes hockey and curling in the Winter Games. When I talk to my father, he mentions the latest hockey score, but that’s one thing that I can’t get into. I need some immediacy to my events - qualification, a few rounds, and a medal. Having events that are stretched out like seasons makes it hard for me to watch regularly. I will watch in the medal rounds, but not right now.


Did You Know: That short track converts to figure skating. Did not realize that - I thought they were two separate rinks under one roof!


Slalom is crazy: How people can see those blue and red poles and know how to go down a steep hill and alternate between the two colors at breakneck speed is impossible in my eyes.

Tomorrow there’s a ton going on - from women’s luge finals to women’s ski jumping finals to women’s long-track finals to MEN’S HALFPIPE. Time to see SJ Shaun White in action!



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