Originating from Scotland, curling has been played in Canada, in some form, since before 1800. Scottish immigrants were great ambassadors of the game with clubs soon developing across the country. Games were initially played outdoors but eventually weather conditions led to sheds being built and the game moving indoors. From then on Canadians adopted the sport as their own and have dominated the sport for many years.
They have reigned supreme in the curling world until very recently as the PyeongChang Olympics did not go exactly to plan for the Canadian Curling team. For the first time ever, they left without a medal in either the men’s or women’s events. However, they did take gold in the mixed doubles. In fact, Canada not being in top form meant that more countries had the opportunity to shine and make the tournament even more exciting.
Being such an important Canadian pastime, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try. My store manager plays every week and offered to take myself and some other colleagues out on the ice. Here is my experience of curling.
Each team has four players with each sliding a 40lb stone down a sheet of ice towards a target at the other end. The team with stones closest to the centre of the target wins. The Skip (captain) dictates where the stones will be thrown from the far end of the ice. After a stone has been thrown, the two remaining team members will sweep the ice to help the stone along and hopefully guide it to the correct place.
Now that is a very, very basic round up of curling rules. There are many different rules and strategies within the game that make it interesting.
Curling is a great sport as you can play from pretty much any age, the rules are relatively easy to learn, and you don’t have to pay a lot to play. In addition, sweeping is a major cardio workout so its also good for your health.
To start off with we used a wooden frame to help gain stability and balance when pushing off from the hack (the foothold in the ice). You have a little slipper over your shoe called a slider which helps you glide along the ice more easily. However, I initially went about two feet forwards! Its feels very unnatural as your hands, arms, legs and feet are all trying to do different things. It sure makes your brain work. Once our body had caught up with our brains we tried with one stone and releasing.
Next, we learnt they very basics of how to direct the stones. Holding the stone at ten o’clock and releasing it at twelve o’clock would send the stone to the left/right. Holding the stone at two o’clock and releasing at twelve o’clock would send it to the left/right.
After this all that was left was sweeping. You must use your weight to lean over the broom and make sure you don’t have your slider on your shoe. Other than that, sweeping is relatively straight forward.
We finished with a small game where at least one of my stones all made it to the other end of the sheet, success! Matt, as with all sports, had a natural talent and apparently even had a specialised toe tuck (the Manitoba tuck) down already. We all had a fun time and are hoping to get to go again before Matt and I leave Halifax.
Would like to say thank you to my store manager Lisa and her son Evan for teaching the Brits to curl!