Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Curling

Usually the butt end of jokes, the sport of Curling first appeared in the Olympics in 1924, but then disappeared from the competition until the Nagano Olympics in 1998. Many people probably just assume that Curling came from Canada and was a sport for people who couldn't play hockey. Guess what? You couldn't be further from the truth. Curling actually originated in Scotland. Since we all know about the Scot's love for attempting to aim small objects at small targets, it makes sense that Curling would originate there.

Curling Preview


Events:

Men's
Women's

Curling is played similarly to shuffleboard on ice. Each team "throws" eight stones down the ice, attempting to get it to stop at the center of the target on the ice. A set of eight throws for both teams (16 total throws) is called an "end." A game consists of ten "ends" and the team with the most points (determined by how close to the center of the target the stones are) wins.

Both the men's and women's tournament consists of ten teams that play in a round-robin tournament. After round-robin play, the top four teams are seeded into a bracket. The first round winners play for the gold and silver medals with the losers playing for the bronze.

Competitors in the Men's Tournament: Canada, China, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, United States

Competitors in the Women's Tournament: Canada, China, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, United States

Favorites

Canada is an absolute institution in the men's sport, and anything less than Gold will be severe disappointment. Great Britain's men's team has also been strong in recent years but got upset by the United States team in the bronze medal match in Turin. Finland won silver in Turin and should finish in the top half of the tournament once again.

On the women's side, Sweden won gold in Turin and looks to be in position to make a run at it once again. The Canadian team is always strong and will have the home crowd behind them. Switzerland won the Silver Medal in Turin and should be at the top once again. China is a team on the rise, with their women's team claiming gold at last year's Curling World Championships.

US Hopefuls

In their desire to claim another medal, the men's team didn't let Stephen Colbert on the squad. The competition will be stout, but after their Bronze in Turin, you have the believe that the US will make a run at another medal.

After getting absolutely shelled in Turin, the US Women's team looks to rebound with a better performance. The US team is more experienced and should fare better than in 2006. As always with tournaments, if they can sneak into the top 4 in Round Robin, anything can happen after that.

Predictions

The Steelers n'at Pick: We would be stupid to pick against Canada in the Men's tournament, so we're not going to. Going out on a limb, we say the US improves upon their Turin performance and makes it to the Gold Medal match, but falls just short of Canada. We're going to take Great Britian for the bronze. On the women's side, we're going to go with Sweden to repeat their Gold Medal performance from Turin with Canada a close second. China sneaks in and wins bronze.

Three Rivers Burgh Blog Pick: I agree 100% that Canada will bring home the gold here. I live in Alaska right now and watching these people curl is actually pretty fun to watch. You might laugh at this sport but it is no joke. It look hard (I have no tried it yet) but it takes a lot to actually play it, plus if you fall on your ass on the ice you will be laughed at the rest of the time.

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