The 2015 Ford World Men’s Curling Championships are underway in Canada and the hosts are facing strong competition from the Norwegians
Think of jolly old England and the scene that tends to evolve in people’s minds is one of a greenery laden village, with either stone-build cottages with thatched roofs or those black-and-white Tudor timber-framed buildings that nestle along cobbled lanes or winding narrow roads. There’s always a pub of course, with its patrons enjoying a restful refreshment outside on a nice summer’s day so rare it could be hen’s teeth and, at the heart of all this, the village green.
Ulsrud Curls A Blinder
• Curling world championships
• Norwegians taking fight to Canada
• Oldest competitor still winning
Typically the village green in this rose-tinted vision of Britain has people playing cricket upon it, men in white lurching back and forth between the wickets as family and friends look on, often from a close proximity to the pub’s welcome catering of ploughman’s lunches and real ale whilst kids giggle and play like something out of an Enid Blyton book only without the inherent middle-English fear of foreigners or the tit-helmeted police bobby on his bike.
Everyone is smiling, there’s no crime or crackheads, no graffiti or vandalism, and the only sounds are that of birdsong and perhaps the bells from the church marking the hour’s passing as the hands on the clock tower slowly count the passage of tranquil times, with everyone gambling news from the weather man will keep the rain at bay for just one more day and let them enjoy this peaceful bliss of rural living and even if it does rain that it’ll be a summer shower doing nothing more than making rainbows.
Perhaps those of an older persuasion will have noticed the wooden benches in the shade of the oak trees, the sign for the Royal British Legion or even a mobile library pulling up to service the community, and if Cricket isn’t their scene (and it really isn’t everyone’s) they’ll be picturing a place they can play their favorite sport; bowls. Bowls is a slow game of weighted balls played by men with pipes and women who seem to be impersonating Miss Marple, it is quintessentially English and incredibly dull.
Bowls On Ice
Who can roll an large black unevenly weighted ball at a smaller white ball some way away, aiming to get closest, is not everyone’s cup of tea, and indeed it’s popularity amongst those of certain age (over the hill and then some) is mostly centered around it’s few and minor physical requirements. You might therefore be surprised to note this supposed sport is growing in popularity half a world away in Australia where the young have taken it up not because one need not be fit, but because one need not be sober.
Quaffing pints of the amber nectar whilst laughing at your friend’s inability to judge the curving run of their ball towards the jack is probably not quite what the players in 13th century, from whence the game originates, had in mind, but bowls clubs have taken to this new crowd with the begrudging acceptance of those tired of watching the patrons (and profits) thin out as time ravages their numbers like an outbreak of Ebola in an old people’s home.
Whilst the Australians might be leading the way in this revival and renewal of Bowls adapting it to their cultural norms it is the Scots who took the basic essence of the game and adapted it to their own local weather conditions. Standing around outside in Scotland watching people slowly roll balls about was never going to catch on amongst anyone who didn’t like hypothermia, so they swapped the green grass for ice, the balls for stones and lo the sport of Curling began in the mid-1500s.
Curling takes the essence of bowls and adds energy, excitement and shouting a lot, with team members furiously brushing the ice to either speed up or slow the heavy smooth stones progress so as to get theirs closer to the target than that of the opposition, with tactics and strategy coming into play as one’s opponents rocks need to be bettered or battered out of the way. As a sport it’s far more interesting to watch than bowls and if you’re keen to bet on sport in Norway you’re probably already a fan.
Ulsrud Hits Scot For Six
Norwegians love curling with their disappointing results in Sochi almost a source of national embarrassment, and perhaps that’s why they’re so determined to successfully defend their Ford World Men’s Curling Championship title in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of the Canadian team that took gold in Sochi. They’re up against teams from 12 other nations including China, the US, the Czech Republic and Japan, and with the Canadians probably the team to beat it’ll be a riveting tournament.
If you’re Norway gambling laws of nature might prevent the hugely experienced Thomas Ulsrud continue to lead your nation’s side at the grand age of 42 you’re going to be disappointed because he hasn’t moved over to make way for a younger team member and instead is going all out to win the title he helped take in Beijing last year at the Capital Indoor Stadium. Will the calm of middle-age and his wealth of knowledge give him victory? Well, so far, so good.
Monday saw Ulsrud just nudge his way by the Scots captain Ewan MacDonald, his opponent almost serving up the easiest final stone possible allowing the Norwegian to grab the victory he needs to keep the pressure on the also victorious Canadians by a record tying six points. Canada remain unbeaten at 4-0. The Japanese, like Norway, are in second position on 3-1, with Italy and the Swiss on 2-1 and Finland and the Czechs on 2-2 and everyone else trailing them.
“It’s not often you score six in the second end in the worlds,” said Ulsrud understating the manner of his victory somewhat, “But we got some really good breaks and the angles turned out great for us so it was actually quite an easy shot at the end, and that was the game right there.” Will he be able to keep up these winning ways and remain on course to give the Canadians a run for their money? Who can say but if you’re inclined you could always plump to back him online at sites akin to ComeOn! Sportsbook.