Joanne Palmer: My Olympic dreams live
February 24, 2010
“In curling, they get a 40-pound granite stone and send it down the ice and then sweep the debris from in front of it. All the fun of shuffleboard, plus household chores.”
— David Letterman
I’m training for the XXII Olympics! I’ve decided to go for a spot on the U.S. Curling Team in 2014. All the years I’ve been sweeping the kitchen floor, I thought I was just cleaning the house. Little did I know I wasn’t cleaning but training. I can’t begin to explain how deliriously happy this makes me. No longer will I regard housework as a necessary evil, something to avoid at all costs or, gulp, a chore. No. I will embrace it, look for reasons to do it, do it morning, noon and night, because I am on my way to the podium. Boo-ya! Hands in the air! Oooo … oooo!
Because of extreme klutzy-ness and a preference for books instead of boot camp workouts, I never harbored any Olympic dreams. Foolishly, I associated Winter Olympics mostly with figure skating and skiing. But then one day last week, I glanced at the TV screen and saw women, oops, I mean athletes, sweeping the ice, and I thought, “I could do that.”
My Olympic dreams were born.
For those of you who have not watched curling, let me tell you how the game is played. According to Wikipedia:
“Curling is a team Olympic sport in which stones are slid across a sheet of carefully prepared ice towards a target area. Two teams of four players take turns sliding heavy, polished blue hone granite stones across the ice toward the house (a circular target marked on the ice). The purpose is to complete each end (delivery of eight or ten stones [depending on recreational or competitive play] for each team) with the team’s stones closer to the centre of the house than the other team’s stones. Two sweepers with brooms or brushes accompany each stone and use stopwatches and their best judgment, along with direction from their teammates, to help direct the stones to their resting place, but without touching the stones.”
This is an overly complicated explanation. From my observations, one player grabs the handle of the stone (which looks like a teapot) gives it a big push and sends it hurtling down the ice toward something that looks like a bull’s-eye. The broomers run in front of the stone, sweep, sweep, sweep, clearing a path for the giant stone. Their sweeping, in theory, makes the stone travel farther and straighter.
Curling does not appear to require 25 years of training, brutal early morning workouts, weight lifting or squeezing the body into a skimpy spandex outfit. Olympic curlers look like they can sleep in, show up at the ice and sweep away.
My kind of sport.
Especially this year, when the start of the Olympics coincided with the arrival of Girl Scout cookies. Now, if any of you can walk by a table of sweet, angelic Girl Scouts without buying several boxes, I don’t want to know who you are. And if there is a freakish person out there who has the willpower to place the Thin Mints in the freezer and wait until July to eat them, you will not be invited to join my curling team. And if there are people who can limit themselves to eating just one Girl Scout cookie, I don’t want to know who they are, either. At a minimum, it is safe to assume that an entire sleeve of Girl Scout cookies (particularly Thin Mints) have to be consumed at one sitting. After devouring a sleeve of Thin Mints, the caffeine from the chocolate (and the guilt from eating that many) makes it impossible to sleep, so what’s a girl to do but lay in bed plotting her Olympic debut?
Look for me in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. I’m already thinking about what to pack.
Now, please excuse me. I have some sweeping to do.