Friday, February 02, 2007

What's a Bonspiel?

I've been thinking it's time for a curling update, and Tim's question in the comments confirmed that. Bonspiel: a curling tournament. Tim made some shrewd guesses:
  • A good time? Definitely.
  • A good spin? As long as you put the correct turn on the rock as you release it.
  • Perchance does it involve a lot of alcool? Frequently. This may interfere with correct turns on rocks.
I have heard that "bonspiel" is German for "good game," which is the phrase we curlers always say to one another as we shake hands with the opposing team before and after each game.

This year we have a three-generation family team in the mixed league here in town. The third-generation player is usually James, but sometimes Ruth takes a turn if she's not doing homework or babysitting. We also played in the Boxing Day Fun-spiel, and made it into the B final.

Recent curling news: just over a week ago, in our regular Tuesday night game, Dad (the skip) told me (the third) what shot he wanted, and then took off down the ice at a jog. About halfway down he was suddenly over backwards. I saw his head rebound about five or six inches off the ice surface, and the bang was so loud it brought all the curlers from all three sheets hurrying over and crowding around him. Jason was close, and steadied him as he tried to get up, then eased back down again, with several curlers' gloves quickly tossed onto the ice to cushion his head. In a few seconds he did get up, with helping arms all around. Jason, kneeling in front of him, held up a wide-spread hand and said, "How many fingers?"

Dad paused, grinned, and said firmly, "Four!"

"Well that's normal!" Jason grinned back, as relieved laughter rippled around.

We think the gripper must have come off his sliding shoe, giving him a banana-peel landing for his next jogging step. After retrieving the treacherous gripper, Dad went more slowly the rest of the way down to the hack, and I went back to the rings and tried to remember where he wanted the broom. He missed it badly anyway. His final shot for that end was better, but in the next end he confessed he was feeling woozy and had better go home. He had quite a headache for a couple of days, but the HealthLine nurse gave Mom lots of symptoms to watch for and nothing else appeared.

This Wednesday we were curling again, and we got clobbered. Dad joked that he has a good excuse now, but I think the rest of us needed excuses more than he did. Whenever the other team had last rock, they got three points; whenever we had last rock, we got one. In other words, we were generally outshot, but Dad kept salvaging ends by drawing to the button.

(If all this sounds like I'm mixing in snatches of some other language, you might want to watch the Canadian Curling Association's Flash animation about the sport of curling.)

One more thing: watching curling in Arcola just got better. There are cameras and monitors installed now so that you can sit in the lobby and have a top-down view of the rings at the far end of the ice. Come on out and have a look - maybe watch part of the Ladies' Bonspiel this weekend.

Some people figure that curling must be boring to watch, since there are so few spectators at the games, but I have a different theory: most people who come and watch are soon out on the ice themselves!


Tim Hodgens said...

Laura: Thanks so much for the intro to curling. Whenever I get to Canada I make it a point to watch it on TV. Just seeing it leads me to agree with you as to why there are so few spectators in the stands. I'd be on the "sheet" also.

The flash animation was helpful. I especially liked the "double takeout" and the "hit and roll."

It's good the nurse gave you guidelines to use after your dad's collision with the ice. Post-concussive states, especially if the events are closely spaced are never to be treated lightly. You might want to do a google search for today's Boston Globe sports section and look for the piece on Ted Johnson. If you can't find it and still want it, I can mail you a copy if you want.

He talks about consequences, behavioral and cognitive, which he directly attributes to 2 specific concussions (but in a context of numerous others)in a way which gets your attention.

He was a linebacker for the Boston Patriots and was a super bowl winnner. Football, for you curlers, is a sport where two opposing teams line up across from each other, in which one team tries to move an inflated oval shaped ball down the field and across a goal line.

One team uses skill, cunning and brute aggression to move in one direction. The other team uses skill, cunning and brute aggression to thwart that. There are many violent interactions (but with surprisingly few short term injuries...longer term injuries are another subject which is seldom talked about.)

In order to protect the players, various parts of their bodies are protected with equipment. Once the body is as well protected as it can be, the players can now play the game with even more reckless abandon and more forceful collisions.

For this they are handsomely rewarded with a contract which is then traded in for lots of green paper.

Oh, and the whole "game" is thoroughly enjoyed by men and barely tolerated by most women. The pregame rituals of "tail-gating" improves the attitude and mental prepartation so the audience can tolerate the cold better and can lose most inhibitions towards the obvious punishment that the players are doling out to each other.

Aye, lassie, it's a great game. And 'tis a sadness that two days from now the Patriots will not be at the super bowl.

Well, thanks for your intro to curling and I guess this will qualify for our yearly cultural exchange of vital information.


arcolaura said...

Well, Tim, for a proper cultural exchange, we could get into a discussion about who plays the real game of football (wink). I recall back when we lived in a house trailer with no running water or electricity, Dad would haul out the generator and fire it up once a year to power the TV so we could watch the Grey Cup. But I've never actually been to see a football game live, so I guess I really can't comment on the full cultural experience. Hockey, though: I've seen a few games at the rink here, and as in football, the violent interactions are clearly a key to victory. Mostly I enjoyed watching, even though most everyone else was groaning at the performance of our team, but I was just thinking, "Wow, there's no way I could skate like that!" But when the players forgot about the puck and focussed on the violence, I'd had enough.

Thanks for the mention of Ted Johnson. I couldn't get at the Boston Globe article without inventing a zip code for myself (another little cultural dissonance) so I browsed other news sites and came up with a medical report on concussion assessment in sports. I hadn't heard of the elevated risk of injury from subsequent concussions - that's worth knowing about!

Tim Hodgens said...

try this:


Tim Hodgens said...

Laura: that may not have gone through correctly for the web address. If that didn't work, then do google search for

boston globe newspaper

then go to most emailed pages, and the article about ted johnson is the top one.