What: The Scottish sport of curling, in which you throw a series of 44-pound stones from the hack across the hog line and down the sheet toward the house, getting the right weight, directing your sweepers, laying guards and frozen rocks, and taking out opposing stones, all with the goal of lying your shot rock closest to the button, stealing when you don’t have the hammer, and coming out on top at the final end of the bonspiel. (I’m sure that was clear.) Never seen it? Well, why not join some happy 1980s Manitobans and get swept up in the fun:

Why: With most sports, you can see the thought process of the creators: I’m bored, I’ve got a pig’s bladder, I kick it at your head, and I’ve invented soccer. Curling is the platypus of sports, where you have no idea what was going on the creator’s brain that day. I’m guessing that some 16th century Scottish monk came across a boulder on a frozen river, and absent-mindedly gave it a heave. His fellow monk saw the boulder hurtling toward his carefully cut ice-fishing hole, and started whisking the ice with his housekeeping broom so as not to disturb the fish. Of course, this just made the boulder go faster, and, monks being monks, this emboldened the first to hurl another boulder at the outraged fisherman. And so this game of mutant shuffleboard was born. Or not. Whatever the origin, the game has advanced to a simple but addictive format, where lifting heavy rocks has never been so fun.

Impact: Curling has leapfrogged other misfit sports to become hotly contested in the Olympics, and the game of choice when beer is on the line. (The sport has an official term for having a drink with your competitors, “stacking the brooms.”) In Canada, the sport is second only to hockey in cultural significance, with the annual men’s Brier and women’s Hearts tournaments pitting the best curlers from each province against each other for the right to represent Canada in the world championships. It has also developed even more mutated versions of its own.

Personal Connection: Oh, right, the lethal bit. Evon and I saw curling at the 2002 Winter Olympics and scuttled up to our local curling club to try it out. We loved it, and invited our friends Mark and Hanno to join us for our sophomore outing. In the opening ends, I laid a beautiful shot right into the bullseye. I was so entranced with my own infallibility that I failed to recall the key item in a curler’s gear. You wear sneakers so that your foot can grip onto the ice. That’s foot, singular. On your off-foot is a slick rubber sole that lets you slide briskly down the sheet when you’re on broom duty. I stood up directly on my slick foot, pirouetted majestically through the air, and impacted the sheet of ice with my upper arm. Friction, gravity, and tensile strength being what they are, the ice won. But my broken arm wasn’t enough to daunt us from competing. That took till Evon’s next outing, where she slammed her head into the ice and left a gallon of her blood frozen into the sheet. We haven’t competed since, but we retain an abiding fondness for the sport that tried to kill us.

Other Contenders: that soccer thing I was talking about? well, Top Gear shows it’s even more fun in Toyota Aygos; heedlessly chucking yourself off a British cliffside in pursuit of a block of cheese; the entertaining and insane sport of snowmobile racing (watch closely at 1:26); taking any opportunity to play air hockey with a naked Eva Longoria.