Honolulu Lite


Sunday, February 17, 2002

Curling could take a few
pointers from figure skating

Forget ski jumping, half-pipe snowboarding and giant downhill slalom. The most exciting sport in the Winter Olympics is curling, in which overweight Nordic housewives and Scandinavian fishermen with beer bellies slide glorified teapots down an ice-covered shuffleboard track.

You don't see much prime-time coverage of curling, which is unfair. I suspect it also has the World Curling Organization or the Association of Curling Countries or whatever organization sanctions this pub-based amusement questioning what it can do to get as much press coverage as weenie sports like short-track speedskating, in which a bunch of guys with thighs the size of elephant trunks race on a track the size of a bottle cap.

To this end, curling could take some inspiration from the most boring Winter Olympics sport around: figure skating. Now stop. Do not try to tell me figure skating is interesting. It is nothing but a freak show where guys who wear makeup and women who shave jump around in ugly uniforms to uglier music in a hockey rink. If I wanted to watch a bunch of sullen Russian guys in Spandex spin like tops, I'd, well, I don't want to watch a bunch of sullen Russians in Spandex do anything. Not that I have anything against Russians. I still get nightmares from images of German medalist Katarina Witt taking to the ice. Forget Iraq. I'd like a few U.N. inspectors to visit the laboratory that produced Witt. She was scary. If she just looked at Scott Hamilton, he'd cry.

But even with science experiments like Witt, figure skating is deadly boring. And figure skating proponents know that. That's why there's this global conspiracy to make it seem more interesting.

Do you think Tonya Harding really hired thugs to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg? That's way too sophisticated for a trailer park blossom like Tonya. Tonya would have just run Nancy over with her pickup truck in the parking lot if she wanted to hurt her.

Kerrigan gets a slight bruise on her shin, and suddenly figure skating is making worldwide headlines. Vicious attack or clever marketing?

The controversy this Olympics centers on is the attempted robbery of the gold medal from Canadian skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. Brilliant! Had Sale and Pelletier simply won the gold medal outright, skating would have been relegated to the back of the sports pages.

Now figure skating is front-page news, and Sale and Pelletier will soon star in their own movie of the week, make an Oprah appearance and bring in millions of dollars in product endorsements. Their names suddenly are household words.

Now tell me the names of the members of the Canadian curling team. Name just one curler from any country, past or present. See?

I'm not saying that curlers should try to break each others' legs, a la Harding-Kerrigan. They couldn't do it anyway. Women curlers have legs like Clydesdales.

But a small scandal would help bring curling into the public eye. What if a curler "accidentally" chucked one of those heavy granite curling stones into the audience and beaned Bob Costas? I bet we'd know the name of that curler before you could say "aggravated assault with a deadly Scandinavian weapon."

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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