Vernon Davis Outrage & Uncommon Sport #597: Wheelchair Curling

I was checking out our friends over at curlingrocks.net, you know; the USA Curling Team. They just named Vernon Davis their honorary team captain because he made the Pro Bowl and he's all popular and stuff. Whatever, he's no Antonio Gates.

Davis, who is playing in his first Pro Bowl Jan. 31 in Miami and was named a starter for the National Football Conference, took up the sport just a few weeks ago but like so many others who get caught up in the ancient Scottish sport, Davis became an instant fan of the sport.

He takes up the sport a few weeks ago and he's suddenly Mr. Honorary Team Captain? I am not feeling the love here. I've loved curling for years now, and love is stronger than actual play. What kind of perks am I missing out on?

As honorary captain, Davis will be in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games next month to support the team's quest for gold.

Oh, that is so not fair! He's going to be hogging all the free healthcare and watching all the curling up close and hanging with Team USA dudes like John Shuster, Jeff Isaacson, and Chris Plys. While I let the jealous rage subside, let me tell you about wheelchair curling.

I discovered this sport on the video section of USA Curling's home page. Just the other day I was thinking to myself, "Self, there should be more sports like murderball." Leave it to curling to come up with just a solution. So I watched the video, and you have to hit the jump to find out what I learned. 

What is wheelchair curling? Well, it's curling in a wheelchair! Anyone who requires a wheelchair for daily use can play and at international level, all teams must be coed, so it's a good way to meet people. But don't let a wheelchair come between you and fun, you can play with anyone you want, they don't have to require one for daily use, just to play. 

What equipment do I need? Besides the ice rink, curling stones, and circles, you need a wheelchair, warm clothing, and perhaps a delivery stick. Think about what you'll be able to tell people when they ask what you're carrying. "Oh, this? This is my delivery stick," and then you drop the microphone and roll away. The only other thing you need is a ramp to get your wheelchair on and off the ice.

How do I play? You can deliver the stone with your hand or the previously mentioned delivery stick. Don't forget to have a teammate hold your chair steady. The video calls this the Buddy System. There are no sweepers to carry or guide the stone once released, making it more of a challenge than regular curling. Some wheelchair curlers have made it onto able-bodied teams because they are just that good.

So, where is this going? Besides playing with any of your friends or family of any age, you can join wheelchair curling clubs, compete in nationals, internationals, worlds, and even the Paralympics. The number of Paralympic teams has increased to ten for this year's games and they come from all three of the world's continents. 

For more on wheelchair curling and curling in general, head to worldcurling.org and don't forget to check out that video at the home of USA Curling, curlingrocks.net.

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