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Curling

2018 Was the Year Curling Became Cool

This was the year curling became the greatest sport on Earth. Good luck convincing us, or anyone who has grown to love this boozy athletic endeavour, otherwise.

by Kyle Cantlon
Dec 28 2018, 7:19pm

Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG/EPA

You may have met your long-term partner, got married, travelled afar, bought a house, or even brought some whiny kids into the world in 2018. If you’re in that camp, congratulations, but make sure you realize that all of that is irrelevant and meaningless compared the most important development of the last 12 months: Curling became cool as fuck.

Yeah, that’s right. Curling killed it in 2018.

It’s now (unofficially) officially the single greatest sport in the world, and I’m not just talking about in the pockets of small-town Canada and Scandinavia where the game has always been worshipped and celebrated by those brought up around the great stone-throwing, beer-guzzling culture. As people in the US and around the world finally start to give curling its due credit as a world-class sport both recreationally and competitively, that shit’s gone mainstream. And, frankly, it’s about damn time.

The 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, much more so than past Winter Games, really upped the game’s global profile as casual fans partook in their usual every-four-year venture into watching obscure sports they would never otherwise give a minute of their time to.

Unlike the crazy, death-defying sports that make up a good chunk of the Winter Olympics’ competitive slate, curling can be enjoyed by pretty much anybody with access to a tiny patch of ice, some rental rocks, a couple dollar-store brooms, one shoe dipped in Crisco, another in crazy glue, and a highly-functioning liver (not required, but highly recommended).

In PyeongChang, South Korea, last February, all the beautiful, fan-friendly aspects of the game were on full display at the absolute highest level, especially with the introduction of the mixed-doubles event, which paired up a man and woman from each country for a modified two-on-two version of the sport that strikingly resembles most marriages today. Pairs go from planning strategy and working in sync to carefully calculating their next move to the inevitable stage of arguing over inconsequential shit and eventually never speaking to each other again. What other sport is this relatable?

As for the original version, the four-on-four melee we’ve grown to know and love, it had its coming-out party at the Winter Games, too, with the rest of society finally realizing what northerners and old-ass people have known all along: Curling is basically just an active, life-sized drinking game that anyone with a pulse can partake in. In other words, it’s amazing.

You aren’t going to get shitfaced and then do moguls or rip down a luge track. We wouldn’t advise participating in Summer Olympic sports like cycling or swimming when you’re half in the bag, either. But curling? Yeah, you can go play a friendly bonspiel after downing a case of Molson. (Well, some can. More on that later.)

Like that college roommate who just slaughters everyone at beer pong and turns into a campus legend, these Olympians are just like us aside from their ability to bare down and hit tiny targets with precision and grace even while a pungent cocktail of booze and nicotine is running through their veins at extraordinarily high levels. It’s truly athleticism at it’s finest—a physiological phenomenon meant to be appreciated.

Of course, it took the US actually winning in something for it to become officially cool, and the PyeongChang Games brought the country its first-ever gold medal in men’s Olympic curling. The American squad featuring skip John Shuster, prototypical dad-bod owner, and Matt Hamilton, who became the face of the team over the course of the tournament as fans fell in love with his perfectly-constructed moustache and relatable not-so-athletic physique, captured the imagination of arm-chair athletes everywhere as they strutted their way to the title—subsequently giving the rest of the world permission to officially embrace this beautiful sport. Thank you, American overlords.

The USA's Matt Hamilton at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Matt Hamilton, the face of curling in 2018. Photo by JAVIER ETXEZARRETA/EPA

Aside from moustaches and beer bellies, wacky wardrobes are also a staple of this glorious sport. Teams are granted serious street cred, I assume, for taking their style game to the next level and there is nothing more relatable to the general population than an eye-catching outfit that can be obtained for like 15 bucks from your local thrift shop (or for free if you have no shame stealing from your grandfather).

I mean, just ask the Norwegians how quick your celebrity can grow with the proper choice of slacks.

As much the the sport’s profile grew amongst Americans in 2018, let’s not forget that despite a disappointing showing from both the men and women at this year’s Olympics, Canada still captures the spirit of curling unlike any other nation.

Exhibit A: Former gold medalist Ryan Fry along with three others had to forfeit their final match at the Red Deer Curling Classic after literally getting too drunk to compete. That’s right, an actual, real-life Olympic champion and his boys got punted from a sanctioned national tournament because they were way too shitfaced.

The foursome, which included Jamie Koe, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby got booted before the final after the tournament committee received complaints about the team’s belligerence from multiple opponents and spectators. Now, we’re not going to praise these gongshows for becoming intoxicated and belligerent, that would just be irresponsible of us, but their little stunt got curling buzzing online and grabbed the attention of those people who didn’t realize what a party this game is—and of those who never would have given curling a second thought. You want to get millennials interested in curling? This was it.

Plus, it was hilarious.

Here's how facility manager Wade Thurber explained the situation to CBC Sports:

"They went out to curl and they were extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing and just unacceptable behaviour that nobody wants to watch or hear or listen to and it was just 'enough was enough.'"

So if you’ve been searching for a sport in which actual Olympic gold medalists, champions at the highest level, can easily fall victim to the booze monster and get booted from a top-level professional tournament as a result, this is your jam.

Curling is dope and in 2018 it officially became the greatest sport on Earth. Good luck convincing me, or anyone who has grown to love this boozy athletic endeavour, otherwise.

Tagged:
Sports
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Winter Olympics
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ryan fry
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