So far, each one of my tests of sporting prowess has involved only myself and my own natural skill. I think it's about time you the reader appreciate that I'm not the only one with a pen behind my ear, a notebook in my back pocket and a complete lack of athletic ability.
So let me formally introduce the Montana Kaimin's curling lineup: news editor Joe Pavlish, photographer Steel Brooks, fellow sports reporter Taylor W. Anderson and myself.
Now that I've thoroughly inflated our egos, I'll get to the action.
On a fateful Saturday night — the weekly meeting time of Missoula's best (only?) curlers — we gingerly stepped out onto the ice. This particular night happened to be tutorial night for anyone looking to get involved. Luckily for us, that meant an intro to the basics and a bit more knowledge than we'd already gathered from watching the Canadians and Swedes in the Olympics last year.
With a very basic understanding to draw from, Team Kaimin half-joined, half-commandeered, a game from the Molson Canadians, a team that included one journalism professor and two whole Canadians. They were nice enough (or drunk enough) to allow us the honor of getting beaten in their place.
By the way, this is as good of a point as any to mention that while playing this sport, we were told it's customary to have a beer. Other sports could learn something from this. I'm looking at you, badminton.
My first foray into stone tossing went poorly. I sprung out of the blocks like a champ, my broom in one hand for balance (I'm told) and the rock extended toward the circle-target that sat 150 feet in front of me. I released the stone on cue and sent it flying off at an angle quite far from its intended destination.
And then I tipped over on the ice. Damn, ice. What's your problem?
This encounter only reinvigorated my feud with the frozen surface. I mean, it's cold, it's hard and hurts when I fall on it and I'm pretty sure it has self-image issues. It's OK, water. You don't have to change to make people like you. You're fine just the way you are: liquid-y.
Sadly — but maybe fortunately — I don't know how badly we lost our match. I neglected to learn the rules of scoring after we continuously failed to do so. We were close, though, once Mr. Pavlish slid a "good rock" into the 12-foot scoring rings (to cheering applause from us), but our next stone collided with his, bumping it from the points area or "house" and leaving us with nothing more than a shutout and a slight buzz.
Still, not a bad time for a Saturday night.
To see the Kaimin staff slide rocks on top of frozen water, log onto Montana.Kaimin.com/Multimedia.