Monday, February 13, 2012

Dutch Curling Championships

Carol and Lori

Lori's sister, Carol, visited this past weekend and her timing couldn't have been better for enjoying wintersport in Holland.  On Saturday, our neighbors hosted the first ever Wassenaar Dutch Curling Championships.  Actually, it was just an excuse for a block party on the ice (I could have said an ice block party but the pun would have been too much).   The weather was perfect; bright sunshine and cold temperatures.

The crowd enjoying the day. 

Many of you may have watched curling in the Olympics, where a player (the skip) slides a stone down the ice trying to get it to stop inside of a circle.  His/her two teammates (sweepers) brush the ice ahead of the stone to create a path towards the circle.  Teams "throw" 8 stones each and the game is much like shuffleboard.  According to Wikipedia, curling is a very strategic game and is often called "Chess on Ice".

Carol cheers on her sister

A view of the curling "sheet" as the playing field is called.  
In the Wassenaar version of curling, wheels of cheese are used instead of stones, making the game uniquely Dutch.  The sweepers mainly just lean on their brooms, trying not to spill their drink.  And I did not detect high levels of strategy -- it was more like "Checkers on Ice".  Our home team consisted of Lori and Grant.  After an initial setback, they deployed a bit of strategy by moving Grant to the skip position.  Thereafter, they went undefeated all the way to the championship where they were awarded ---  a set of wooden shoes.  Well done, team.
Grant displays his championship form

 The victors with the coveted wooden shoes.  
Using cheese as a stone resulted in a few cases of dog interference.

On Sunday we went back to the ice to give Carol a chance to skate on the canals in Holland.   There was light snow falling so it was very picturesque.   She and Lori had pretty good form considering they have had about a 25 year break from the ice.

Photo documentation of Carol skating the canals of Holland

We almost look Dutch

We bought Grant a pair of skates so he could give it a try.  

I even got into the skating spirit.  No, I didn't buy any skates (they were sold out by the time I got up my courage).  I read the book, Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge.  The book tells the story of the Brinker family and life in Holland in the mid 19th century and of course includes a skating race on the frozen canals near Amsterdam.  Interestingly enough, Dodge never visited Holland until after she wrote the book; she depended upon research and her immigrant neighbors for background.  Another interesting point is that Hans Brinker is not the boy who plugged the dike with his finger.  That story is told within the book, but the hero boy is simply referred to as the Hero of Haarlem.

Unfortunately, that will probably conclude the skating season; we are having light rain and warm temperatures today with similar conditions expected all week.   It has been amazing to see the country's reaction to ice.  Skating was all that people talked about.  Not just the 11 cities race (which was not able to be held) but family skating, local races, etc.  It's a big deal and we were lucky to see it.

We hope that Graber realizes that he won't be able to walk on water when the ice thaws.  

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