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Curling has become a popular Olympic sport in U.S.

The Oklahoma City Curling Club was founded on the heels of the 2010 Olympics when the popularity of the stone-and-broom sport skyrocketed in the U.S. And the popularity spike is undeniable.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 6, 2014

Falling and crashing is as much a part of the Winter Olympics as snow and ice.

Think about how many of the sports on the program involve the occasional crash and burn. Bobsled. Luge. Snowboard. Skiing. Skating. Ski jumping.

Not curling.

Or so I thought.

With the opening of the 2014 Games in Sochi this weekend, I decided to give one of the sports a try. Being in Oklahoma, options are limited, though this winter might change that. (Nordic combined, anyone?) But we've got curling.

Yes, curling.

The Oklahoma Curling Club was founded on the heels of the 2010 Olympics when the popularity of the stone-and-broom sport skyrocketed in the United States. Maybe it was all the hours that CNBC dedicated to it. Or the wacky pants worn by the Norwegians. Or the number of jokes you could make about the sport.

One of my co-workers, who will remain nameless, refers to curlers as “janitors with an attitude.”

Still, the popularity spike is undeniable. “The Simpsons” did a whole episode about curling. NFL star and Wisconsin native J.J. Watt said recently that he was looking forward to watching two sports during the Olympics, and curling was one of them. Los Angeles, of all places, has a curling club.

Heck, there's even a Men of Curling calendar, and lest you think these guys a bunch of puny wimps, Google up this calendar.

Put it this way, they're wearing a lot less clothes than they do on the ice.

(I felt a little funny researching this at work, but hey, proceeds from the calendar go to charity, so it's all good, right?)

In the name of equality, there used to be a Women of Curling calendar, but near as I can tell, they didn't produce one this year. Seems a mistake in an Olympic year.

To be honest, I've been enamored with curling since the 2002 Olympics. I remember watching broadcasts of it during the Games in Salt Lake City, and I was so interested that I actually looked up the rules.

But I never tried curling until now.

Ron Conlon, president of the Oklahoma Curling Club, was kind enough to explain the basics.

“Curling is an extremely social sport,” he said. “It's like golf.”

I like golf.

“It starts with a hand shake — ‘Have a good game' — and ends with a hand shake — ‘Nice game. Thank you very much for the game' — and it also usually ends with a bit of libation.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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