Word of the Day: haptic

It’s been a week since the Olympic flame was extinguished in Vancouver, which means you might be experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Your friendly neighborhood Word of the Day writer has heard your cries, and to you I deliver an Olympic-themed story.

This story was inspired by my friends  Marty and Bryan, who came up with the idea for the event behind….

Today’s Word:


As in:

The success of the new Olympic event, Snow Cross, and the growing fascination with the sport of curling, has led to the creation of a new Olympic event.

Curling Cross, an exciting hybrid of curling and snow cross, will debut in the 2014 Olympics.

Instead of being indoors, Curling Cross is played outdoors on an elaborate ice covered course. The course includes ramps and curves.  Each team lines up with a curler from each of 4 teams at the starting line. The curler shoots his stone along the course, and the two sweepers help the stone achieve its final distance. The stone must cover a minimum  distance, and once it has reached that point, a second curler will curl from the point the stone has rested.

The race is timed, and since the curlers leap frog each other to curl from the point the previous stone stopped, there are advantages to achieving as much distance as possible. If a stone fails to meet the minimum distance, in addition to having to start from the shorter position, the team will face a two second penalty to their times.

Since there are winding passages and ramps on the courses, and there are four teams racing at any given time, the stones themselves become dangerous. They must reach ramps going a minimum speed, else they will not clear the ramp and will come sliding back. In addition, too much speed over the ramps will cause them to “leap” into the air, potentially landing on players of either team. Sweepers are not allowed to sweep in front of the stones preceding certain elements of the course, instead waiting at the bottom of ramps for their stone to appear. 

In some cases, very shortly after a curler launches the stone on the icy course, it will disappear from view. This means that he or she must rely on instinct and haptic feedback, to launch the stone correctly. In addition, having a good mental image of the course at all times is essential to giving the stones enough of a “curl” to round corners and stay on course.

The teams will swap positions and go through the course 8 times, one for each stone, and their times are aggregated for a team time. The team with the fastest time will advance.

It is unclear whether the newly minted event is going to attract the interest of curlers, who might not be interested in putting themselves at risk of severe brain trauma from falling stones, or other injuries from navigating winding, icy, hilly terrain.

When I saw “curling cross” all I could see were stones hurtling through the air over ramps, and it had to be done. But, it had to wait for the Oscars to be over, more’s the pity.

Thanks again Bryan and to Marty.

haptic / HAP – tick / relating to or based on the sense of touch.