Saturday, February 27, 2010

Latest Wall Street binge: Curling

And, no, it's nothing like a hedge, a straddle, or a stripped mortage-backed security:

This slow-poke game, which originated in 16th-century Scotland, has captivated the Type-A world of Wall Street almost by accident. CNBC, whose market chatter is the background music on trading floors, switches to curling from Vancouver shortly after the closing bell.

And so, after a day of braying for money in the markets, traders are winding down with curling. It is, fans say, a bit of after-market therapy. Curling is so slow and drawn out that it becomes mesmerizing.


Curling is like chess on ice, and that, Wall Streeters say, it part of its quiet appeal.

Slate explores parts of the allure that the New York Times seems to have missed:
Scales dropping from its eyes, a popular audience has begun to dig curling's mesmeric pace, soothing rhythms, and alluring intimacy. What other sport allows the home viewer so much time to study players' unguarded faces as they focus, fret, and scheme? It is possible to appreciate the sport's charms even while being ignorant of its intricacies, T.S. Eliot having articulated a truth: Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

Four years ago, discussing the Torino games with me, Seth Stevenson neatly defined curling's appeal: "It features the collision physics of billiards mixed with the spin-heavy, long-distance shot-making of golf." Further, he and I bonded in crushing on its ice princesses. The ranks of the besotted grow daily: NBC has ogled the curling-stone tattoo on Nicole Joraanstad's lower belly. John Doyle, a TV critic at The Globe and Mail, is taking heat for deeming the women's game "the sexiest thing at the Olympics." And then there is the fact that, in the matter of exhibitionism, the curl girls make Lindsey Vonn look like an Amish agoraphobe. Once again, Ana Arce—a photographer and a former member of the Andorran team—has shot a calendar that captures these lovely and talented women in poses ranging from the artistic to the sultry to the very sultry to the not at all safe for work in a Helmut Newton kind of way. Is it self-exploitative? Is it self-empowering? Are those categories mutually exclusive? Isn't it good for the sport that the curling stone has gathered some gloss?

Videos: Which way do curling stones curl?; How curling stones are made;
Bikini curling


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