If you build it, they will come -- Winter Olympic Version
February 19, 2010 11:17 AM   Subscribe

So you own a hotel and think it's a good idea to woo the US curling community. So you borrow some regulation size stones, lay down some synthetic ice sheets in the ballroom, and... (wait. what? synthetic ice? Cool!) Anyway free curling expo starting tonight at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown DC.
posted by cross_impact (51 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mon, 15 Feb 2010, 19:08:08 EST Global Synthetic Ice™, worldwide leader in the development of synthetic ice, introduces "Super-Gliding," the sport of skating on a surface other than real ice.

Uh huh. Yeah. I did this as a kid, growing up in Florida in the 80s. Real cutting-edge, there, Global Synthetic Ice.

I'm sure it's a lot better nowadays, but the idea is anything but new.
posted by gurple at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2010


New to us less hip and worldly folks, I guess. Besides, if I was in DC, I'd totally go try me some free curling.
posted by cross_impact at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2010


Question-- if the ice is synthetic, then will the brooms still have any effect?
posted by joshwa at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


They're synthetic too.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was watching curling last night with the sound down. The looks on their faces were hilariously curious. If someone dreamed up the emo olympics, I have to imagine this would have been an event, based on the facial expressions I saw.
posted by cashman at 11:30 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good luck doing a hockey stop on that stuff.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2010


"Hockey Stops and Slap shots can easily be done on Super-Glide® synthetic ice."

oops.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:32 AM on February 19, 2010


What? Synthetic Ice? This PR-rific news-like article seems pretty fond of the stuff mentioned in the article. The American Museum of Natural History has had an artificial ice rink since 2008 (exact materials unknown, but it's recyclable). Experienced skaters say it's a good way to practice, as there's more resistance, but blades need to be sharpened every 2 hours (at least on some materials).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:35 AM on February 19, 2010


Yeah apparently being able to hockey stop is the big difference compared to older synthetic ice. Good luck getting people to call it "Super-gliding" rather than skating though.
posted by ghharr at 11:36 AM on February 19, 2010


The stones are synthetic, too. As are the players. In fact, the whole thing is just a holodeck simulation of curling. This is what the engineers use to debug that sucker, because, unsurprisingly, it has the least fatality rate of any other scenario they've programmed in. This includes the hugging fluffy kittens scenario, which was supposed to be the original debug mode, before we fully realized the true dangers of kitten snuggling.

Best to stick with curling.
posted by Bobicus at 11:38 AM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


The looks on their faces were hilariously curious

Moe Meguro is intense, all the more so for having a perfectly symmetrical face.

If I were a hipster, I('d definitely make her my Asian girlfriend (who, uh, um, lives in Canada so that's why you've never met her).
posted by orthogonality at 11:40 AM on February 19, 2010


I want to be a curling guy so bad.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 11:43 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


We did an intro to curling session at a local ice rink last year sometime. Let me tell you this: it is fucking difficult. And cold.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:53 AM on February 19, 2010


There's a joke here about astroturfing for fake ice, I'm sure of it.
posted by boo_radley at 11:56 AM on February 19, 2010


Yeah, well, too bad all the best curlers are in Vancouver...
posted by Doohickie at 11:59 AM on February 19, 2010


Synthetic ice? I prefer the term artificial ice-form, myself.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:04 PM on February 19, 2010


As long as the beer is real, I could be in favour of this.

Yes that's right. I said favoUr.
posted by Kabanos at 12:06 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Super-Gliding," the sport of skating on a surface other than real ice.

Like roller-blading?
posted by HumanComplex at 12:07 PM on February 19, 2010


This is right before the calamity with the kitten snuggling scenario. The aftermath is too gruesome for mixed company.
posted by edbles at 12:22 PM on February 19, 2010


boo_radley: I think the term you are looking for is Astro-Gliding.
posted by edbles at 12:27 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is this where we can bitch about NBC's shitty coverage ?
posted by Webbster at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2010


For those of you in Massachusetts, the Petersham Curling Club is having an open house this Sunday, and another next Thursday night.

My dad and I went to one last year, and it was a whole lot of fun. Really nice folks, and I get the impression that (at least at the sub-Olympic level) it's just about the friendliest kind of competition you can find in organized sports.

Also, the winning team always buys the first round after the game. How classy is that?
posted by usonian at 12:42 PM on February 19, 2010


By law, any thread about curling must contain a link to the most awesome curling song that will ever be written, Jonathan Coulton's Curl.

(Although one must admit, as soon as you hear curlers talk about trying to get the "rock" in "the house," the song kinda writes itself.)
posted by straight at 12:43 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


no this is where we bitch about why i didnt think of this first
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:45 PM on February 19, 2010


The hardest part of SuperGliding is telling your parents you're synthetic.
posted by Benjy at 12:46 PM on February 19, 2010


By law, any thread about curling must contain a link to the most awesome curling song that will ever be written, Jonathan Coulton's Curl.

I realize that Coulton is beloved by MeFi, and while he really does genuinely seem like good people, he's not even close.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:52 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


The secret ingredient in Synthetic Ice?

Cancer. It's 100% composed of cancer cells.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2010


I felt it my duty as a Canadian to try curling. So I did. Now I know why so many elderly people need hip replacements. Once you let go of the rock, you're going to fall over, my friend. If you try it, I would suggest taping pillows to either side of you.

(The fact that curling clubs offer cheap drinks to members may lure me back yet...)
posted by Salmonberry at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2010


I wish I could go to this.

Yesterday I was at a coffee shop trying to work and the entire place was in a curling uproar! Everyone kept screaming "HOT ROCK!!" and "GET IN THE HOUSE!!" No one there could understand how the scoring worked either (I live in California, I'm pretty sure we don't have ice here) until the owner of the place went and printed out the whole wikipedia article on the subject.

I know Canada dominates curling, but as a 1/2 Scot let me take this opportunity to say, Scotland Represent!
posted by serazin at 1:02 PM on February 19, 2010


A few years ago I worked on one of the big national morning shows to set up a bunch of synthetic ice for a guest spot with "Disney on Ice." Even the pro skaters were skeptical. They took some test spins around the studio to get the feel of it, and a few had some pretty painful looking falls. But after maybe 10 minutes, they were doing all sorts of jumps and spins and seemed, tho cautious, very comfortable on it.
posted by nevercalm at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2010


The plastic ice at the American Museum of Natural History was widely regarded as awful. They did not bring the rink back this winter.
posted by plastic_animals at 1:26 PM on February 19, 2010


I want to know what the heck is so compelling about curling? I watch it nearly obsessively, and at first I thought I was a lone freak, but apparently no, it's a big thing all over America now.

Yet when you think about it rationally, it's boring as all heck. A person pushes a medium sized rock on some ice, a couple of other people walk along beside the rock and scrub the ice when the rock thrower yells "hard!!!!!!" Objectively speaking watching paint dry should be more entertaining.

Yet I watch it. And apparently so do many other Americans.

Subliminal messages? A latent ice/rock/broom fetish in most people? An obsession with watching rocks slide along ice? I don't know. But something makes me watch curling, and frankly that disturbs me.
posted by sotonohito at 1:44 PM on February 19, 2010


AvyAmpersand, no fair linking to a high-brow curling song written from the point of view of someone who actually knows the sport and uses it as a clever metaphor for love when we just wanna get jump around and yell "RAH RAH CURLING! C'MON BABY GET THE ROCK IN THE HOUSE!"
posted by straight at 1:53 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: I want to know what the heck is so compelling about curling? I watch it nearly obsessively, and at first I thought I was a lone freak, but apparently no, it's a big thing all over America now.

I think the first time I saw curling must have been the Nagano games. It really is mesmerizing.

A while back it was on ESPN2, and my wife thought I was putting it on ironically or to get her goat by putting something stupid on the set. Later, I pointed out that she had been watching for nearly two hours, and she realized what you did: curling is captivating.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:58 PM on February 19, 2010


I want to know what the heck is so compelling about curling? I watch it nearly obsessively, and at first I thought I was a lone freak, but apparently no, it's a big thing all over America now.

All I know is, I saw the film Men With Brooms sometime in the early 2000s, and then discovered that there would be pretty complete coverage of the 2006 Olympic curling events via the NBC family of channels. Thanks to the miracle of a DVR, I watched every hour of it, and quickly became obsessed.

Living in the Spokane, WA area (only about 150 miles from Canada), I figured it would be easy to find a way to play this sport for myself. It turns out, NO! None of the ice rinks in the area want to devote a section of their ice to being pebbled for the sport, there are no clubs, I couldn't get any support for my interests from any of the US curling associations.

It's such an excellent game. Skill and strategy are required, but luck's cruel hand can turn a game in an instant. It's custom made for people like me -- not really in shape but not afraid to move their body a bit. I still contact the ice rinks in this area a couple of times a year looking for permission to start a curling league, but still to no avail.

If there is anything which really increases the lure of emigration to Canada for me, it is curling. The rest of it (health care, gay marriage, RUSH, Douglas Coupland), that's all just icing on the cake.
posted by hippybear at 2:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like many Michigan folks, I had seen curling on Saturday afternoons on CBC, and I was completely fascinated.

Imagine my delight when, thanks to the efforts of a few local diehards, the Kalamazoo (MI) Curling Club was formed a couple of years ago. I attended the very first session and have been hooked ever since.

Gang, let me tell ya – it's a lot harder than it looks. Coming out of the hack and figuring out the basic mechanics of throwing is difficult at first – you will fall (often embarrassingly so). Once you get that figured out, however, that's when the real fun begins.

Trying to figure out the line, what spin to put on it, how hard to throw it – it all can be a bit maddening. There's a reason curlers are yelling; there always seems to be that "oh @#$&!, that's not what I meant to do" moment after you let go of the stone.

And for those who don't think it's aerobic – pick up a broom and try sweeping the length of the ice. I scoffed at it too – until I tried it. After one long sweep I was as blue in the face as the background of this website. :-)

Despite that, it's a very fun game. The culture of curling is such that it's pretty laid back. especially at the club level. If you've got a club anywhere near you, go. Bring friends – it's much more enjoyable as a group.

The folks in our club can relate to these Washingtonians. We wooed the U.S. curling community just over a year ago, and we were granted the U.S. Curling Nationals, taking place in about three weeks. MeFi mail me if you're in the area, it would be fun to have a meetup!

Good curling... HURRY HARD!
posted by Exploding Gutbuster at 2:19 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


My wife isn't as captivated by curling as I am. The other day, I was watching the USA-Switzerland match, and I could tell she was getting irritated that we weren't watching something else, and I was thinking "come on, it's only been like 30 minutes" but then I realized that I'd been watching for two hours.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:39 PM on February 19, 2010


I just checked, and to my surprise, there are two curling clubs in NC. Unfortunately they're too far from be, but still.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:41 PM on February 19, 2010


Curling is extremely telegenic. The camera can catch almost everything the viewer wants to see without even moving, the basic premise of the game is easily communicated by just a few short minutes of watching, and there's plenty of build-up to the moments of action.

Also, the fact that it's only slightly more athletically demanding than pool or darts adds a pleasant element of, "Yeah, I could do that!" compared to pretty much every other Olympic sport.
posted by Copronymus at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I approve of any sport where you tell a piece of granite to hurry.
posted by Elmore at 3:30 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love curling. My local ice rink has a curling league and I keep thinking my husband I and should join, and then I remember that I have a bad back and can't bend over at all, and that's probably way harder than it looks.
posted by threeturtles at 3:39 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, hockey players have been practicing stick handling on fake plastic ice for years. Youtubes.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:39 PM on February 19, 2010


Here's the stick handling vid I was thinking of.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:41 PM on February 19, 2010


Watching the women's curling on NBC this second. I'm glad I'm not the only one fascinated by this ridiculous (in a good way) sport. Skill, finesse, and crazy strategy all rolled into a sport where the object moves slowly enough that you can actually follow it.
posted by Gilbert at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2010


I just finished watching the USA-France match and now I'm too excited to sleep.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 7:55 PM on February 19, 2010


I just watched Great Britain vs Japan!

curling 4 life
posted by danb at 10:03 PM on February 19, 2010


Watching US-UK women's curling right now (for whatever reason the women's curling is roughly 1000% more exciting than the inferior men's permutation) and have been watching every game I could catch all week. I'm not the only one. This is curling's year, and is has finally caught on in the states, I think.

Now I just need to find a way to be doing this myself. I'm willing to injure my hips and embarrass myself - I just need to be good at this. This is my new obsession.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:36 PM on February 20, 2010


Hearts on Fire, another curling music video, just touted during the US/Sweden women's match.
posted by ardgedee at 8:28 PM on February 21, 2010


I suspect it's the deceptive appearance of slow-motion and the gradual curving motion that's so captivating. There's a wonderful sense of inertia at work. Same sort of reason why lawn bowls made a comeback with the under-65 market in Australia. Well, that and they're both sports where you can bowl/throw the bowl/stone with a beer in your hand.
posted by MarchHare at 9:40 PM on February 21, 2010


"I could not control the weight on the last shot in the 10th. It should have been way slower, but when there are 6,000 people yelling, it's pretty hard to find out how hard you kick off. It's just so hard to focus. You're trying, but it's just not the same as if it was silent."

I love the look on her face in that article. And again, the look on her face at the olympic website. And her teammate and sister's face.
posted by cashman at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2010


My 'History of Curling' blogpost has been going mad just recently. Most of the hits come from 2009 Women of Curling Calendar. Nothing synthetic as far as I can tell.
posted by tellurian at 1:46 AM on February 27, 2010


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