Dateline: Lausanne, Switzerland--After an Olympic curler died of a heart attack from haranguing her teammates as they swept the ice, the International Olympic Committee has ruled that instead of yelling so much for no good reason, curlers in the next Winter Olympics will whip each other.
Laura Mahoney, the Olympian who died on the ice, would slide the rock towards the target, across the ice curling sheet, and then she would screech until her face turned red, flailing her arms and berating her teammates so they would steer the granite stones with their brooms as if their life depended on it.
"She wouldn't just scream like an insane person," said a sports journalist who covers curling. "She used to threaten to burn the sweepers' houses down and cook their pets for breakfast. She called on all the demonic powers in the universe to guide the frenzied curlers. You could hear her howling even if you were standing outside in the parking lot. She was like a banshee from some mythical age-only she was guiding polished rocks down a curling rink instead of tearing people's heads off.
"I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but I have a pet theory: curling was just Laura Mahoney's excuse to deafen the audience. She had something against people being able to hear-that's what I think."
In the last Winter Olympics, Laura died of a heart attack after pounding the ice with her fists in fury when her fellow curlers steered the rock to the left, whereas Laura had insisted that they should have steered it to the right, having threatened at the top of her lungs-and with a full stadium in attendance-to boil their children in a cauldron of acid if they failed to comply with her caterwauling that sounded like the cries of a condemned soul in the pit of Hades.
"Laura Mahoney just dropped dead on the spot," said the sports journalist. "Some in the audience seemed relieved: they could finally remove their hands from their ears, shake the ringing out of them, and maybe think about attending a somewhat less cacophonous sport event, like a shotgun shooting tournament."
The IOC reviewed the evidence and determined that Laura's death could have been prevented, had her teammates simply removed the ear plugs from their ears as they steered the rocks. For their part, the teammates declared that their hearing mattered more to them than comprehending what their overzealous colleague was screeching.
Nevertheless, the IOC is implementing new rules for the curling tournaments in the next Winter Olympics. "Each curler will be issued a whip," said a committee member, "and instead of verbally communicating with her teammates, the thrower will remove the whip from her belt, run down the ice, and whip her teammates' posteriors to encourage them to steer the curling stones at the most opportune time and in the most advantageous direction."
Courtney Jurgenson, a Canadian curler, expressed misgivings about the new rule. "I worry that the whip will end up tearing our pants off, so we'll just be running around freezing and half naked, cleaning ice with a broom in front of thousands of people. You know, our rear ends are sort of just thrust up in the air there as we're sweeping the ice. So I'm thinking of wearing leather for protection, assuming that will be allowed."
Another curler has similar doubts. "When I'm sliding down the ice, being whipped from behind, I for one intend to have one eye on the rock and one eye on the lady with the whip. When I see the lash coming, I'm just going to move my exposed hindquarters out of harm's way-even if it means banging into my fellow sweepers.
"I'm not saying I'm dead set against this change in the sport," she added. "I'm just saying it's hard to decide which is worse, being yelled at by a madwoman and forced, in turn, to babble at the top of your lungs or having your arse whipped over and over again. It's a tough call."
The sports journalist wonders whether the IOC might have considered a simpler remedy. "How about microphones?" he asks. "Just wire the curlers up with microphones and receivers so they can even whisper their commands and the others will hear them just fine down the ice.
"But no, now we're going to have the crack of the whip and the spectacle of bruised and scarred backsides. Sure, it's about as sensible as the rabid barking from the thrower. But I just think that, you know, microphones might have been the less barbaric way to go."