We gave tickets to our very good friend Dave as a Christmas gift. Whether watching at the arena or on television, last week was all curling, all the time. Think I jest? 17 draws, each lasting roughly 3.5 hours (why yes, that’s about ten hours a day). After the round-robin play came the five play-off matches.
am was a casual observer of the sport. I’ve never played (though I wish I had). Curling is as much a cerebral sport as a physical one, part chess and part brute force. While I’m the first to admit I have much to learn about the intricacies of swingy ice, “Hurry hard” and holding on to the hammer, here’s what I learned from watching the men this week.
There’s a time for fun, and a time for focus. Good-natured bantering in the crowds is an important part of the game. The steady hum of voices as people offered knowledgeable opinions about where a stone should be thrown and why was interspersed with the dancing moose and costume wearers intended to get people laughing. What’s not to love about that? However, when it came time to take the shot, especially the big ones, the entire arena settled to silence and showed respect for the man in charge of the moment. He was given time and space to breathe. Wouldn’t it be nice if we always did that?
Circumstances beyond your control are no excuse to give up. We saw some masterful shots and some big misses too. Know what? They were followed by more great shots. That’s how life is. Take the shot.
Losing isn’t the same as failing. The semi-final game was by far my favourite. Each team played brilliantly, trading single points until the tenth end. There was one stone in play that was so close to being ‘in’ that neither team could be certain it was worth a point or not. If it scored, one team would win. If it didn’t, a tie would force an extra end. The stone had to be measured, resulting in the only deuce of the game–and a well-deserved victory. One team lost, but no one failed.
Live your purpose. Brier Bear has been the official mascot for more than 30 years, greeting fans and players with great enthusiasm. We had nose-bleed seats for one of the matches, and Brier Bear came up for a photo op with the 91 year old lady in front of us (she never misses a Brier, we were told). Calls for “Brier Bear, over here” could be heard as he was enticed to go to other parts of the stands. He took part in the dance-off, participated in the commercial break games for the audience. Just the usual stuff, right? What might not be so usual however, is that Reg Caughie, the man inside, is 78 years old. He has been donning the suit all this time because he likes to make people happy.
Never underestimate the family you create. Curling is a family friendly sport, and there were several fathers, sons and brothers that played with (and sometimes against) each other. The most poignant moments however, involved the created family–like when the hometown hero, recovering from an illness that kept him out of the Brier this year had support from two opposing teams to throw two stones in an official game. He wasn’t well enough to play, though he’d surely earned his spot so they made space for him to be included as much as he could be. There were tears and cheers in the stands, and from players in the other games. Family is what you make it to be.
Congratulations to all the men for being great examples to the kids, big and small, of excellent sportsmanship, camaraderie and kindness. Our world needs that, and you made Canada proud. Special congratulations to Kevin Koe, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert, and Brent Laing, our new Team Canada. Best of luck in Basel!