Hey, Andrew here,
I was asked what my favorite Winter Olympic Sport was a couple of days ago and I can say now with confidence that my favorite sport to watch is Curling.
I know it’s random, but coming from a tennis player who essentially plays a type of chess in each match, I can see the similarities in curling. I understand it’s not a sport you need to be freakishly athletic to be good in, and that Americans aren’t known for it…at all (although they are working on it), but I enjoy the strategy it takes to win one curling matches.
Essentially, curling is as follows: There are four people on each team. The captain is called the “skip.” Curling is played on a sheet of ice that resembles a shuffleboard court. On each side of the ice there is a painted target (The House). Each team gets eight rocks, two per team-member. A rock is circular and weighs about 38 pounds. Try and visualize a coffee pot filled with cement. The closer you can get your “rock” to the middle of The House, the more points you can score. This is where the strategy comes into play! With eight rocks, what’s stopping each team from just knocking each others’ rocks out of The House all together? I know, great question! The first couple of rocks you throw down the ice sheet are “guards.” They block the other team from knocking your rocks out of the middle of the ring.
BUT, there is a way to get around them. Here’s some more strategy for ya: you can “curl” the rock around the guard, hence the name “curling.” As the rock glides down the ice, two members of the team “sweep” in front of the rock to create a lane and add spin to the path. One team member launches themselves off of a block at the end of the ice and gradually releases, while twirling the rock in the direction they want it to spin in. If the rock is slowing down, the person who initially throws the rock can come up to sweep in front of it. So the fourth person lines up on the opposite side of the ice, the side the rock is being “thrown” towards. It’s his / her job to call out what “line” the rock should take to get into The House.
The game is saturated by tradition and history, originating in medieval Scotland in the 1500’s. Today, it’s played all over the world, in England, Canada, United States, Japan, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, China and Korea among others.
My favorite part of it though is how intense these European teams get; that’s why it’s so much fun to watch. As the rock is gliding down the ice, all four team members are yelling out to each other – not always in English – to adjust the line the rock is on. I know there’s a lot of terminology and I don’t understand it all myself. There is a reason though why I brought it up! I propose that the LVC divide into teams, buy coffee pots and fill them with quick dry concrete, and curl on the ice at the Freitas Ice Forum – our campus ice rink.