In many ways my first attempt at curling was very similar to my first attempt at trail running. It was only the medium into which I fell that was different.
Yes, on Sunday I fulfilled a lifelong dream to go curling. (OK, maybe lifelong is a bit of poetic license, but I’ve wanted to try curling for a long time. It’s that lure of the border which comes from growing up in Western New York.) Again, what I lack in skill I make up for in enthusiasm. My first practice slid (without a rock) resulted in me, sprawled face-first, on the ice.
Luckily, it only got better from there.
I lost track of how many times I fell, because, well, it was pretty much a given that I would fall early and often (and I did not disappoint). But after a while I got the hang of what I was supposed to be doing. Execution was a different story both in throwing the stone and in sweeping. Yeah, many people had commented that they too could be Olympians if they picked up curling. I am smart enough to know that hubris always gets you into trouble. I ever thought that curling was easy and had that confirmed after playing a few ends and finding the finer points, the details, both interesting and difficult, as details and finer points can be.
However I believe by my final throw I was able to release the stone without completely falling. That, my friends, is a victory.
While taking in the joys of curling and tossing around the lingo like a pro (“Hard!” “Sweep!”) up in Niagara Falls, Canada, the women’s NCAA basketball tournament was also experiencing some excitement.
There were close calls. There were double-digit seeds winning. There were rock-em-sock-em scoring battles. There were dramatic second half comebacks (thank you Dayton Flyers).
There was, in essence, March Madness.
It wasn’t necessarily an historic set of first-round games, but as an ESPN story notes, 12 different conferences have first-round wins — the most since 2003.
This is what I’ve been saying most of the season as some bemoan the dominance of Connecticut — that the rest of the field of women’s basketball is highly competitive this year. It’s been entertaining as a fan but in my role as an AP voter it’s produced mixed emotions.
By mid-season my top four teams were pretty much set — UConn, Stanford, Nebraska and Tennessee. (And having Nebraska in the top four alone is an indication of better overall women’s hoops through D-I land.) The next 21 teams however, were a crap shoot each week. Teams were losing to unranked opponents, then knocking off quality programs ranked ahead of them.
Some weeks it was chaos.
And that’s actually a lot of fun.
Yes, the No. 1 seeds will likely go to the Final Four in the women’s bracket and UConn probably will roll to another undefeated season and national championship. But if you don’t look at the rest of the field, you’ll miss a lot of good basketball, some outstanding players and some interesting story lines.
Granted, sometimes in life I miss the obvious.
But if you stare too long at the obvious, you often miss all the good stuff, the really fun and sometimes inspiring stuff, that happens in the details.