As a former curler (and official) I'm obviously a little biased, but I think this post by Duff Gibson, who won a gold medal in Skeleton at the 2006 Torino Olympics, is spot on. Here's highlight, but go read the whole thing.
"You may look at curling and think it’s nothing like hockey or snowboardcross and that’s true – at least not in physical terms but do you want to hear something crazy? I think the rest of us could learn something from curling. Say what you want about it, you can’t argue that it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of skill to do what they do on a regular basis. At the Olympics, they’re competing for the same prize as the rest of us and the pressure for them is exactly the same. If some of the greatest athletes in the world talk about the Olympics being 90% mental, maybe we should look at a sport that typifies skill and focus."
As a curler you get used to the questions about the sport's legitimacy and used to the same old jokes about it being an Olympic sport. Part of the issue is that people don't understand the sport and part of it is that it looks easy. But there's another segment, those that have seen kids, old folks, and people not in the best of shape playing in recreational leagues, who think that somehow disqualifies the sport from being "serious" (though I never hear them talk about hockey, volleyball, etc. the same way). The reality is that to do any sport at a high level requires years of practice and amazing skill, and the curling athletes at the Olympic games (and yes, they really are athletes, you try sweeping for 1.5 miles) deserve as much respect as everyone else for their accomplishments.
h/t to the L&T for sending me the link to Mr. Gibson's post.