Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Curiosity Of Curling

Like millions of other people around the world, I've been tuning in to the Sochi Olympics with great interest. I'm not what anyone would consider an athletic person I've always loved watching this international athletic event and (in my younger years) fantasized about what it would be like to actually compete in such a grand venue. Figure skating and skiing-both Nordic and alpine- have always been my winter favorites but during the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 I stumbled upon the sport of curling and was simultaneously fascinated and hooked. Maybe it was my sleep deprived state-- Sidney had only been home from the hospital for a few days when the Olympics started--but there was something intriguing about this sport I had only heard of but had never seen.

So what is this sport of curling that I am referencing? As I learned in my quest to understand this sport, this ancient sport dates back to medieval Scotland where actual rocks and sticks were pushed across frozen ponds. Talk about humble origins! The sport has evolved but remains true to its roots with the rocks now being called stones which are more uniform and polished than their predecessors. Similar to shuffleboard, two teams slide their stones across an ice rink toward concentric circles with the goal of outscoring each other. Sweepers accompany the stones using brooms to guide the stones along their intended trajectory. The game is simultaneously simple and complex giving it the moniker of "chess on ice". Today, curling is the popular in Canada and Nordic countries but Scotland is still home to the international governing body of the sport, the World Curling Federation.

Perhaps it is because I was now aware of this sport that I seem to be seeing and hearing about it everywhere. The winter of 2011 found us living in Washington D.C. where Glenn's cousins had their very own ice skating rink set up in their backyard. One evening they invited us over to join them for a game of curling. Yes, that is right; a live curling match. There weren't any outlandish costumes and the sweepers were actually kitchen brooms but the stones were real. Even at the tender age of one Sidney got into the action and slid across the ice alongside the stones. Upon mentioning my interest in curling to my mother she informed me that there was a local curling club in her community. Who knew?

Leading up to the games sportscasters were anticipating not only the competition but the uniforms each team would be wearing. Either curling is coming into its own or I was completely oblivious before but just the mere fact that mainstream, American sportscasters were talking about the sport makes me think others are interested in curling as well. Rumors abounded about the outlandish uniforms that would be sported by the Norwegian national team. Talk about national pride! Other uniforms were much more sedate but that didn't detract from the playing. Living in a hotel with only AFN television I was unsure of how much Olympic coverage I would be able to watch. I considered getting to watch any curling would be a complete bonus. We weren't able to watch the opening ceremonies (my other Olympic favorite) but much to my delight, we have been able to watch a lot of curling. I still don't understand all of it but there is something about this sport that has once again sucked me in. It is just that cool.

So if you've never watched curling, try to tune in and catch a match or two. There is still time during this Olympic season. Better yet, find out if there are any curling leagues in your local community. You can then watch them in person or perhaps take to the ice and try it our for yourself.

Sidney as a "curling stone"- January 2011

1 comment:

  1. Fun post - I have to be proud of the sport of curling as I'm British and it's one of the few medals we normally win. Have you heard of cat curling? hehe:
    Good luck with NaBloPoMo :)