So, What is Curling?
The Winter Olympics are here which means we are all the biggest curling fans. I find it funny how no one cares about the sport until it's the Olympics. Once the Olympics are here, all bets are off and curling is the favorite sport. I love it.
Since all eyes are on curling right now, I thought it would be a good chance to learn a bit more about the sport. Where does it come from? What are those rocks? Are those mops they use? Why is it called curling? Can it be that hard? What are they wearing on their feet? So many questions with curling. We watch it, we enjoy it, but let's face it we have no clue what we are watching.
Curling has been in the Olympics since 1924, however its history is much older.
According to WorldCurling.org, "Paintings by a 16th century Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel (1530-1569) portrayed an activity similar to curling being played on frozen ponds." The sport got its start in Scotland, being played on frozen lakes and lochs.
In its first few appearances in the Olympics it was considered a demonstration sport and no medals were awarded. According to the site, "...1959, Scotland and Canada reached a major milestone by launching the Scotch Cup series between their national men's curling champions." It wasn't until 1998, that curling was recognized as a sport by the Olympics and in 2002 the committee decided to recognize all appearances by curling in the Olympics since 1924, awarding Great Britain the gold medal from 1924.
So what's with that rock?
Interestingly, all curling rocks come from the same place. According to Olympic.org, "Also known as a stone, a curling rock is made of rare, dense granite that is quarried on Scotland's Ailsa Craig. Each rock weighs 19.1kg [42.1 lb] and is polished."
Why is it called curling and why do they sweep?
The name curling comes from the way the rock curls from rotating on the ice. The ice is covered in water droplets that create small pebbles on the ice, making it textured. This brings in the sweeping. The textured ice causes the stone to curl and slow. The sweeping smooths the ice allowing the stone to move straighter and maintain momentum.
I've noticed some athletes have something on the bottom of their shoes they remove.
Olympic.org says, "Special curling shoes are common; shoes should grip the ice well. While shooting, extremely slippery surfaces such as Teflon are used on the sliding foot. Some are built into the shoes and others are strapped on over the shoes."
As to the question if curling is "hard", my family tried it in Lake Placid and told me it was very difficult.