Human siren stirs US curlers

Vancouver’s new Hillcrest Olympic curling facility is in action this week, hosting the World Junior Championships. With general admission at $10 a seat, it’s a relatively cheap and easy way to see how much $39 million will buy you when it’s time to host a global winter sport event.

It all looked good yesterday, the stands about half-full with supportive fans from around the world. The Canadians were loud, the Swedes less so, but the stand-out noisemakers were the Americans, singing “Yankoo Doodle Dandy” at the top of their lungs under the direction of a human siren armed with a cow bell.

It was not a good morning for Canada. The PEI team skipped by 19-year-old Brett Gallant lost 6-4 to Scotland, but remained in the lead overall. It was some consolation that the team had handily beat China in an earlier match. China? Now a force in curling, too?

The general good vibe in the place was a reminder of the countless small competitions around the world, organized and not-so-organized, that all build to a crescendo with world championships and then the Olympic Games. That’s the real Olympic “movement,” the reason that the vast cost and confusion of the Games seems worthwhile to so many.

Canadian junion curling champions face off against Scotland.

Canadian junior curling champions face off against Scotland. Canada lost 6-4, the first loss of the tournament.