Olympic Curling: More than Just Hot Chicks

Don't be seduced by the alarming amount of arm visible during these Winter Games—these women really know how to pick up around the house!
Ohmiya, oh my: Japan's Anna Ohmiya brings the hammer. I didn't even know why they call it curling until this year.

If you've found yourself watching curling more than you'd ever imagined during this year's Winter Olympics, it's not your fault, or even your choice—it's on any one of 117 channels at a given time. The relative passivity, novelty and simplicity of the sport all make it an easy option among viewers for whom golf might otherwise prove too senses-shattering. However, those who've invested the time to spectate this fast-growing—if not fast-moving—sport have discovered a game of intrigue, a game of strategy and, increasingly, a game of hot, young babes.

Blogs and web sites everywhere are exploding with observations about the sexier 2010 edition of Olympic women's curling. It's not hard to see why:

1. The participants are younger and more pierced.

2. Prior to an event, they apply make-up which—owing to an activity that, for all its athleticism, might as well be Olympic Spelling Bee (or golf)—never runs.

3. There has never been a recorded curling death, eliminating tragedy as a competitor.

4. They're not all sweaty and gross after a match, like women's hockey players.

5. This article is secretly a platform for making fun of golf.

But that's only half of the draw (pun intended, curling fans!). In a quadrennial sports summit that consists of just 15 events, there must be good reason why curling has been part of the Winter Olympics' exclusive roster for the past 12 years.

Winter Olympics TV ratings aren't made public until after the closing ceremony, but the World Curling Federation (WCF) says that the sport is enjoying significant airtime in China especially, with its women's curlers in contention to land the PRC its first team Winter Olympic medal ever. According to the WCF, the numbers are expected to smash the returns from 2009's World Women's Curling Championship in Gangneung, Korea, which drew over 54 million viewers. Buoyed by Olympic appearances by China and Japan, curling might be Asia's fastest-growing Olympic sport.

Yet, when confronted with all of this data, some folks still have their eyes fixed on skirts, not skills.

But the sport is gaining legitimate exposure and active interest among an increasingly younger demographic. Through various development assistance programs, the WCF has witnessed a significant shift in the median age of those who curl, with representation planned for the World University Games and 2012's upcoming Youth Olympic winter games in Innsbruck, Austria.

Still, many remain focused on the flesh. But when pressed on the matter, the WCF is notably tight-lipped.

"The World Curling Federation has no remark to make about the physical appearance of the players," says WCF spokesperson Joanna Kelly, "other than that curling is the only Olympic Winter sport where you can see the athletes' faces, warts and all!!"

It's not warts that have received the bulk of the attention. But the allure of nubile rock tossers only gets spectators past the hog line. Once invested, they see a sport that's coming into its own, reaching the critical cultural mass afforded it by cheap televised ubiquity and aggressive efforts at development. Now, when one of these girls lands a rock on the button, her fist pump is infinitely more justified than any of Tiger Woods'. Because she's doing it for a nation... she's doing it for the vanguard of an emerging sport... sigh, she's doing it in the hope that it'll reveal a sliver of midriff before a slavering horde of post-pubescent skinmongers.

Fine, you want curling cuties? Have at 'em...

Japan's Anna Ohmiya (left) and Mari Motohashi (right) hurry hard versus Switzerland in early round robin "action."

Anna Sidorova of Russia attempts to stone the Chinese to death on Monday.

Eve Muirhead of Britain, embracing her status as curling's sexy emissary.

Canada's Cheryl Bernard would put her ear to the ice if she thought it would give her more insight on the rock's trajectory.

USA's Nicole Joraanstad displays the winning smile that's lost more games than any women's team.

Team Denmark, led by Duponts, Madeleine and Denise, as well as Camilla Jensen don't just sit around the house, they throw rocks in it!

German stoner Melanie Robillard, practically naked by Winter Olympics standards, against Canada.

Britain's Jackie Lockhart, Eve Muirhead and Kelly Wood do slightly more idling during this strategy powwow than they do during actual play.