Friday, February 10, 2006

DC Curling Team

It's no surprise to any readers of this blog that I'm a fan of curling. Thus, I was interested a few weeks ago when some DC residents announced the formation of the DC Olympic Committee, with curling as the first contested sport. The idea, for those not aware, stems from two years ago when the Puerto Rico basektball team upset the US team, in spite of the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory of the US. In fact, most US territories get to compete independantly so, these enterprising District residents thought, why not DC? It's all to raise awareness for the lack of voting rights, which is something that I am fully behind. However, this is a sports blog, not a politics blog.

Thus it is that I think curling is a bad idea. Now, I love the sport, and I know why they chose it. It's the same reason I went curling in 2002 after the SLC games wrapped: it looks easy. Slide up and down the ice, sweep, and hit the target. However, it is noticably more difficult than that. They'd be looking to go from no team to world class in the four short years between now and the Vancouver games.

But...but they don't have four years. The problem with curling is that it's a 10 team field. Actually, it's really a nine team field, since the host country gets an automatic spot in the bonspiel. There's no regional bids, so it's not a matter of being one of the top two or three teams in North America, it's about being one of the top ten teams in the world. It means competing on the European curling circuit at a level at least decent enough to unseed one of the current Olympic teams. And the first of the World Championship bonspiels that start the ranking process for the 2010 games is next year. With the problem being that the team will have to be recognized by the governing body as one that can compete individually from the US team by then.

The sport is a wonderful sport, but the qualification process is going to work against the organizers of this idea. Compare this to the alpine skiing events that are open to the top 500 ranked individuals (with limits on how many any one OC can send).

Since the point of this is to march a team in the opening ceremony so that they have a world stage for their protest, it does them no good to be recognized as an official Olympic Committee just to miss qualifying for 2010.


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