The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are winding down in Sochi, and to help celebrate the US success on the ice (cough, clears throat) the Earthquakes took on the Sharks last Thursday at Sharks Ice - the home of San Jose’s own Polina Edmunds. Thankfully, each team eschewed the elegance of figure skating in favor of the ancient sport of curling.
A frosty version of shuffleboard using 44lb granite rocks, curling was invented in medieval Scotland, the home of the World Curling Federation. The recent medal sweep by the Canadians in the Ice Cube Curling Center of Sochi illustrates the shift in dominance of today’s version of the sport.
In addition to the mighty rocks, curling equipment includes curling brooms (to increase the rock’s speed), curling shoes with dissimilar soles (the Teflon-soled slider shoe for the sliding foot, and the non-sliding shoe for the hack foot), and stretchy curling pants, some of which have eye-dazzling designs (looking at you Team Norway).
The Quakes sent out five players: Sam Cronin, Mike Fucito, Jason Hernandez, Steven Lenhart and Shea Salinas. The two Canadian coaches, Mark Watson and Nick Dasovic, stayed away, perhaps through politeness, but probably to watch their compatriots beat the Norwegian curling pants off everyone at ice hockey.
After expert instruction from the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club, Sam Cronin put in some sterling work with the curling broom, though he did become agitated by the loud instructions on his technique from his curling coaches: "I’m trying - but you keep yelling at me!" Shea Salinas quickly developed a good delivery and one wonders if his stint with the Vancouver Whitecaps contributed to his quick assimilation of curling skills. He had obviously done some homework bandying about terms like hack, house and button all over the ice. Jason Hernandez took the experts’ instructions well and was the most highly competitive player; as a defender he may have natural sweeping skills.
Mike Fucito and Steven Lenhart both seemed taken with their new sport - it’s between these two for most potential to medal in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang. "Curling is very misunderstood and it’s a lot more fun than you think – it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty hard too" said Fucito. As far as judging the pace of the rock he found that the "first couple of times I came in way too hot, but then in the last round I got my touch". He also found that "sweeping is hard – it’s a good shoulder work out for sure". Steven Lenhart also discovered that it was "hard to judge the depth and how soft to do it …but I’d like another go at it". Lenhart reluctantly admitted that the coaching on sweeping were unlikely to improve his housework skills.
Thanks to Lyndsay Radnedge of Center Line Soccer, who successfully negotiated the icy surface without breaking thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment (or any limbs). A larger gallery of the day's events can be found here, and the official Earthquakes video of the event is below.