Though mixed-doubles curling is a young discipline, it contains within it all the ancient customs and conventions of the sport.
So it was quite right and proper that, following Canada's gold-medal win on Tuesday, John Morris threw down the traditional curling gauntlet in front of former TV star Mr. T, who is Tweeting about his new favourite sport, curling.
"We would accept a challenge from Mr. T," Mr. Morris said. "Not an arm-wrestling challenge. But maybe a mixed-doubles challenge."
It made sense if you were there.
That sealed it. Mixed-doubles is officially the most delightfully weird part of this Olympics.
Not weird in the sense of who won – Canada, of course.
In the final, Mr. Morris and partner Kaitlyn Lawes pulled Switzerland apart like kids playing with a bug. It ended with a forfeit after only six of eight ends, 10-3.
Though both Canadians hit big shots all night long, the focus of viewing fascination was the male member of the Swiss team, Martin Rios.
Mr. Rios is a throwback curler, which is to say he is a surprisingly nimble fellow for a man of such girth. His game fell apart early and often – at one point, he flung a rock a good foot wide of the house. Which is hard to do.
Though it was frigid in the Gangneung Curling Centre, Mr. Rios was sweating like a flopping Catskills comedian. As things kept getting worse for him – and partner Jenny Perret – Mr. Rios kept towelling off. When he held his hand out to a surprised Ms. Lawes at the end, you felt that his real victory on the evening was being allowed to go home.
"My performance was a little bit, 'Everybody against Jenny,'" Mr. Rios said afterward, while Ms. Perret sat there trying to convince herself that she should wait until later to strangle him – fewer witnesses.
The Canadians looked over sympathetically. Clearly, they knew how he felt … well, not really. But they could imagine it, I suppose.
This is all as it should be – Canada steamrolling to another curling victory. This country has now won four of the past five golds.
Famously, Ms. Lawes and Mr. Morris practised together for a total of half an hour before the Canadian Olympic trials. Maybe the next team we send over can meet each other for the first time on the plane.
That dominance flows from a widespread interest in the game – an interest that has never really translated elsewhere.
As such, every Canadian curler at the Olympics is expected to be an evangelist for the sport. Ms. Lawes and Mr. Morris embraced that work.
"The mixed-doubles is where it's at," Mr. Morris said, which is not something you'd expect to hear from a sprinter or a speed skater.
That outreach mission works – at least temporarily. Every one of us knows someone who "discovers" curling at a Games. As if it's been hiding somewhere.
But something about the mixed-doubles variety was especially intoxicating to the rubes, most notably famed eighties television aphorist, Mr. T.
"I am really Pumped watching the Winter Olympics. I am watching events I never thought I would watch before, like curling. You heard me, curling Fool," he tweeted two nights ago.
What a thespian. The man never breaks character.
"Curling is kind of different, but it's Exciting. It's not as easy as it looks. It takes some skills that's for sure. I like it!" he continued.
It's settled then.
The world outside the traditional curling confines agreed with Mr. T's assessment. Americans obsessed about their own fractious brother-sister team. British tabloids found every excuse to run leering photo galleries of the Russian team's female half, including an entire story in the Daily Mail after Anastasia Bryzgalova slipped on the ice ("… with her model looks and icy stare …")
The New York Times jumped on the Olympics' coolest bandwagon, devoting a dedicated curling correspondent to goose coverage going into the Games and doing in-depth features with titles such as What Is Curling?
You can understand why this bowdlerized version of the sport caught so much attention. It has all the strategy, but none of the sloth. The fact that the athletes are mic'd gives it a reality-TV feel, even if little of what's said makes sense. (Mr. Morris, for example: "You swept it so it'll be a hair keener.")
Even the way the athletes look – in pants and T-shirts, a little bit paunchier, a little more real – is an attraction.
"We have very good traditions in the game, which I think are in line with Olympic values," Mr. Morris said, and began listing them, before getting to: "At the end of the day, when you have a hard match against an opponent, it's a pretty common tradition to go share a drink with them. That's the essence of great sport."
Curling is the Olympics' only working-class event (though the rest of us still couldn't do it anywhere close to this level).
What struck you about Ms. Lawes and Mr. Morris afterward was how hard they worked on behalf of the game. Little was said about their own performance. Everything was said about how groovy curling is.
"We've had so many fans from all over the world saying they are loving curling, and loving mixed-doubles," Ms. Lawes said. "I've been staying active on social media just because I enjoy seeing the response."
This time around, it may seem heightened, but it often goes like this – the whole world piling into Canada's cultural backyard for a couple of weeks.
There is a multistage, knee-jerk reaction to all of this.
The first stage is delight: "They like us!"
The second is leeriness: "But why do they like us?"
And the third stage is resentment: "They always say this, but they never like us for long."
Maybe this is the Olympics where Canada stops going past Stage 1. Curling is just one of the things we do well at the Olympics now.
And maybe this is the Olympics where a few more of the people who found curling stick with it for a while.
Given how hard they worked at selling it, Ms. Lawes and Mr. Morris might see that as just as great a legacy as an Olympic championship.