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2010 USA Curling Nationals

March 9, 2010

J and I really got in to Curling last month during the Vancouver Olympics.  It seemed like it was the only sport that wasn’t pre-taped and there was always an American team participating.  J’s just a fan of the Olympics in general.  I’m a sports fans, but I was so freaking annoyed at NBC’s coverage.  Everyday we were treated to cross-country skiing.  How frickin’ boring is that to watch? 

With curling, you got to know the players and it’s easier to care about a sport when you have some sort of name recognition.  J would get home from work around 1:00 and before even saying “hi”, she’d ask if curling was on. 

I’ve watched curling since the Salt Lake Olympics.  I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination and if it wasn’t for the Nationals being in town this week, it would probably be another four years before I watched another curling match and I’d have to relearn the rules was the games in Sochi start.

So, J comes home from work today and realizes that a men’s draw at the USA Curling Nationals that starts at 2:30.  We wanted to go to one draw this week just to see the game live.  Neither of us has ever had access to a curling match before let alone the national championships.

During the week, all the draw are general admission.  The early draws are only $7 for an adult.  The evening draws are $10.  I assumed that when you paid for the draw, you got both the men’s and women’s draw, but that’s not the case.  Each draw is a separate ticket, so if you wanted to watch all three draws today, it would set you back $24.  Not horrible for nine hours of curling. 

We picked a couple seats close to Sheet 1.  No reason.  It just happened to be where we walked in to the arena.  J started to head right down to the boards, but I stopped her a few rows up.  We’d have a great view of the sheet in front of us, but only the one end and it’d be hard to see the other four games going on. 

It surprised me how easy it was to follow all the action.  We could see all five sheets and when rocks started to pile up in the house on a sheet, that’s where we’d turn our attention.  Sure, it’s not the same as having the overhead camera, but you can still see the strategy playing out. 

To the non-curler, all the yelling is  hilarious.  “Yup” seemed to be the one thing everyone repeated over and over and over.  At times, it would be so quiet you could hear two guys whispering to each other on the other side of the arena then all of a sudden, it got really, really loud as guys started yelling at each other to “Hurry Hard.”

All but one of the games were pretty close.  The game right in front of us started out a little slow, but turned into a pretty good game to watch.  We ended up leaving a little early because J needed to get home and get to bed.  Once we assumed all the games were out of hand, we left.  Other than the game that ended early, all the games were in the ninth end before we left.

I’ve read a lot of comments on the Kalamazoo Gazette website that trashed the idea of the USA Curling Nationals being in Kalamazoo and I ‘m not really sure why.  No, the arena is not sold out.  Actually, it’s not even close, but there are still some people in Kalamazoo that have jobs, so you wouldn’t expect a huge turnout during the day.  If I had to guess, I’d say there were maybe 100-150 people there watching.  When you think of it that way, that draw alone maybe a little over $700 just in ticket sales.  Kalamazoo is not going to balance a budget off this week, but I think it’s still pretty impressive that the City was able to draw a national tournament here.   Communities need events like this to show off what we have.  We have a lot to off here in Southwest Michigan and a tournament like this really highlights a lot of those great things.

J and I both had fun and really enjoyed the afternoon.  The experience peaked our curiosity a little more and we’d really like to give it a shot once.  If we didn’t have plans the rest of the week, I’m sure we’d take in another draw, but as things stand, we’re happy we were able to make it over today. 

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