Doing this on the spur of the moment. I don’t know a ton about curling. I do know, however, that from a distance Donald Sutherland looks like a homeless man. (Lest you think this a pejorative statement, I also believe that many homeless men look like Donald Sutherland.)
2:56 p.m. PT Another Olympic venue, another blast of Trooper over the soundsystem. I can’t believe the 1988 Olympics are almost over.
3:01 Bagpipes. People standing and clapping. Some folks seem drunk. This seems kind of familiar but I can’t– hang on, is someone going to try to feed me a haggis now?
Everything is in place. The ice is ready. The medals podium sits just off to the side. John Morris has just enough facial scruff. And we’re underway, throwing stones for the gold. Canada opens with the hammer.
For those of you wondering about my own knowledge of and personal expertise with this sport… Number of Briers attended: One. Number of bonspiels watched on TV after failing to convince my Dad to turn it to something good: Lots. Cheryl Bernard, expressed as a number out of 10: eight. Plus my brother Dave is here tweeting and covering it for the Toronto Star. Go find him on the Twitter: @dfeschuk.
The first end evolves into something of a bland appetizer for the tasty main course to come: a nice takeout or two, and nothing else. No problem: those Norwegian pants are hypnotizing enough to entrall me for at least three ends. Canada 0, Norway 0.
It’s very strange to watch curling without the benefit of the TV commentators – I have to try to figure it out on my own, although the crowd is here to help me by clapping loudly at everything. I’m overwhelmed by the sensation that I’m destined to embarrass myself at any moment. (Now I know how Lindsay Lohan feels every day of her life.)
The second end isn’t much different from the first: a house that holds a single rock for the bulk of the time. Thomas Ulsrud plants one with sufficient skill that Kevin Martin is obliged to draw for one. Canada 1, Norway 0.
As the first stone makes its way along the ice, a woman in the stands breaks the silence by yelling, “Boring!” Hey, I was thinking that. And now I’m thinking it again. This is what happens when you try to hold a curling match without a hot mom. (A man in the stands is now loudly making what I assume to be an attempt at the bwock bwock bwock sound made by a chicken. Except it sounds like an arthritic seagull.)
Norway with the hammer. Audience with the ennui. And it ends with Ulsrud throwing through to blank the end. Let the muttering intensify! Canada 1, Norway 0.
Something just entered my mind, and for once it wasn’t Megan Fox in a nurse’s outfit: Remember that old SCTV skit for Monday Night Curling with “Howie McMeeker” – Keep two hands on the broom! I have no larger point to share – just wanted to know if you remember that.
We’re finally seeing some action now: People are actually throwing stones that aren’t immediately removed by the next curler. A novel and radical shift, and one that’s embraced by an audience that was so bored it was about to ask Donald Sutherland to do the voiceover of me drinking a beer. (He lifted the golden lager to his lips slowly, meaningfully, Olympically. Also: VISA is good.) John Morris executes a beautiful double takeout to leave Canada lying two. The Norwegian third misses twice, opening the door for Martin. With his last rock in hand, Ulsrud faces three Canadian stones in the house. He comes up just short on a draw to the button, and Canada steals one. Canada 2, Norway 0.
(On a more important note, the Arthritic Seagull guy is still at it. Obviously it’s not meant to be a chicken noise. Thoughts? Meanwhile, someone honked a horn just as Ulsrud was pushing off with his first rock, and now everyone is booing that bastard. Defy curling etiquette, will ya? To the pitchforks!)
Norway still with the hammer, the seagull still with chronic joint pain. Facing two Norwegian stones in the house, John Morris executes another tricky double, and earns an appreciative roar from the crowd. (I may be going out on a limb, but I get the sense that some of the ladies here fancy him. Just because that facial hair stopped working for George Michael doesn’t mean it can’t work for John Morris.)
Norway seems off balance again this end, with Ulsrud casting semi-perplexed looks down the ice. With his first rock, he gets only the front part of an attempted double, leaving Canada with one in play. But Martin grazes a guard trying to put a second rock in deep. With little other choice, Ulsrud aims to draw to the button but once again just doesn’t have enough on it. Canada steals another one. Canada 3, Norway 0.
During the break, the venue commentator conducts an interview with members of the Canadian women’s curling team – but Cheryl Bernard isn’t there. She’s a no-show. That’s like interviewing the E Street Band without Bruce Springsteen or William Shatner without his hairpiece! Where is the Vancougar? Has the deal for an American reality TV show come through that quickly?
Norway still with the hammer in the sixth, and still with the zero on the scoreboard. I can almost hear those Norwegians thinking to themselves: Damn, this Goodyear tire commercial man is a hell of a curler.
Torger Nergaard, Norway’s third, has been having a tough go of it today and, faced with three tightly packed stones in the house, uses up a lot of time preparing for his second shot. It gets the job done, leaving Norway with shot rock as we head to skip stones. Thanks to an ambitious Martin rock that doesn’t get all he wanted from it, Norway winds up taking a critical two. Canada 3, Norway 2.
Canada with the hammer. After Canada draws to the four foot to get it going, a Norwegian sweeper slams his broom in frustration after the shot of their second brushes a guard and winds up exposed. Martin, sensing blood (it’s got a blood alcohol content of 0.15 – that’s how you know it’s curling blood), calls his team together to talk it through. It has the feeling of a pivotal moment, and moreso when second Marc Kennedy executes a killer double. But Morris flubs a shot, Nergaard makes him pay and suddenly Norway is in command. Curling: surprisingly topsy-turvy. Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland is sitting two seats over from Stephen Harper and, so far as I can tell, hasn’t said more than two words to the PM. (Harper is sitting next to Dick Pound. Lots of awkward silences.)
Morris flubs another shot (ladies, if you’re looking for a new crush, might I recommend TSN’s Vic Rauter?) and the crowd goes quiet – a promising end now looks iffy-to-scary for the Canadian side. Norway lies three as Martin picks up his first of two stones. The skip draws to the button for shot rock. Ulsrud quickly picks up a rock and let’s it go: but his takeout fails. What looked good, then bad, looks good again (kind of like Sharon Stone). Canada is left with shot rock, and Martin’s perfect draw makes it two in all. Canada 5, Norway 2.
Norway with the hammer, and a growing sense of desperation. Canada puts two near the button and then starts peeling away guard after Norwegian guard. Those pants can do a lot, Norway, but they can’t do it all! John Morris reclaims his lady friends from Vic Rauter with a terrific double. There is dejection in the Norwegian posture. To make matters worse, Norway’s next rock hits something on the ice and swerves out of play. Martin puts one on the button, clearly content to force his rival skip to play for one. And what Martin wants, Martin gets (exception: perms). Canada 5, Norway 3.
Canada holds last rock. In other news, I will henceforth respond only to the name Jasey Jay Feschuk.
With the house getting crowded, Norway calls time to consult with its coach, whose sole visible contribution is to exhale and give a look of dejection. We move to skip stones with Canada lying two, the crowd doing the wave and the arthritic seagull just getting on everyone’s nerves now, buddy. Ulsrud clears out the Canadian stones. Martin edges one past a guard for a takeout, but his stone rolls too far to stick as shot. Ulsrud draws to the button to force Martin to take one, but that’s no victory for Norway: they’re running out of time. Canada 6, Norway 3.
Yes, Norway has the hammer. No, it’s not easy to see how they can possibly pull this out. Martin’s rink has been performing very well here today, and on the rare instances when a Canadian has botched a shot, another Canadian has been there to bail him out. The Peeling of the Guards begins, with each shot bringing Martin and his team one stone closer to gold. Meanwhile, the search for Cheryl Bernard continues. Most logical location: in every middle-aged man’s dirty thoughts.
The Norwegians smile as the crowd begins to sing O Canada. They know they are beaten. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper scratches the back of his head and wonders if any amount of national glory can be worth sitting next to Dick Pound for this long.
Norway lies two with one rock apiece remaining. Martin throws the stone that will win gold for him, for his team and for Canada. The boys sweep. The crowd roars. Let the manly hugging begin! Canada 6, Norway 3.