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5 Reasons Why Curling Is the Most Exciting Game on Ice

 

Let me be honest. I didn’t know much about curling before getting this assignment from Janet TV. Now? Well, I am hooked on all things curling. Yes! I am all-in to the world of curling, curling championships, and the women of curling. It just might be the most exciting sporting event on ice.  I discovered that there is even a Women of Curling calendar. Seriously! Who knew?

Article by Katlin Stack

Let me set up a curling situation I witnessed at a bonspiel. (If you don’t know what a bonspiel is, you will when you get to the last slide in this story and see Janet TV’s Glossary of Curling Terms.)

 

The Olympic gold medal is at stake for these competitors on ice, and the final game has come down to its last stone. The thrower watches the skip’s gestures from the other end of the ice. She motions that she wants the stone to move a little more to the left.  The team needs to knock out their opponent’s stone from the home and then land their own stone inside the home to gain the point for themselves.  The thrower sails the stone along the ice while the sweepers brush the ice in front of the stone frantically to turn the stone to the left. They need to give their stone enough speed to knock the opponent’s stone out, but not so much speed that it sails out of home itself. That means the stone cannot go too far to the left, but must go far enough to make the hit. The crowd starts yelling as the stone moves closer. The skip starts yelling. The thrower starts yelling. Each team member—and each fan in the stands—screams or holds her breath as the tension rises and the stone slides slowly, slowly…

 

This is the game of curling, and the excitement you feel from this description pales in comparison to attending a real curling event.  Attend one high-level curling event and you’ll understand why curling just might be the most exciting game on ice.

 

Here are five reasons why you too will come to see curling as the most exciting game on ice.  

 

curling-janet-tv-2 
1. The Winter Olympic Games
 

No sporting event is ever as exciting as when it is held at the Olympics.  When curling officially joined the Winter Olympic Games in 1998, it ratcheted up the sport’s excitement level to new highs. The platform given by being a part of the Olympics adds a solid allegiance of fans for each team. When curling teams clash, it’s a battle for national pride.

 

The historical relationship between the Olympics and the sport of curling has been a complex one. The Winter Olympic Games first brought curling into play in 1924, but then was then downgraded as a demonstration sport in 1932. As previously mentioned, it wasn’t until 1998 that the committee welcomed curling back as one of the official competition sports. But because of that void in participation at the Olympics, curling was not a widely known sport even though curling has been around for hundreds of years.  Despite, or perhaps because of, this previous omission by the Olympics committee, the re-joining in the Winter Olympic Games has been a major cause of the explosion in the pent-up popularity of the game.

 
2. The Skip and the Calls
 

The skip has a high-tension job.  Much like the catcher in softball, the skip’s job is to call the shots.  By using hand signals the skip stands at the opposite side of the ice and signs to the rest of the team what is to happen.  They sign (okay – they yell) the direction of the throw should go and where the sweepers need to make the stone end up.

 

curling-janet-tv-3It’s can be puzzling for the spectator, watching hand signals and not knowing exactly what is going to happen.  Generally, if you watch long enough you will figure out what they mean, but there’s no guarantee that the team will nail what the skip wants to happen.    Just as in softball, signals can be misread, and mistakes can always take place.  That adds to the tension and drama.

 

The trick is in watching the broom: While standing on the other side of the ice, the skip will point with the broom to show the team where the stone needs to reach.  So, even if you don’t understand the signals exactly, if you watch the broom you can at least see where the stone is supposed to end up.

 
3. The Skip and the Calls
 

The skip has a high-tension job.  Much like the catcher in softball, the skip’s job is to call the shots.  By using hand signals the skip stands at the opposite side of the ice and signs to the rest of the team what is to happen.  They sign (okay – they yell) the direction of the throw should go and where the sweepers need to make the stone end up.

 

It’s can be puzzling for the spectator, watching hand signals and not knowing exactly what is going to happen.  Generally, if you watch long curling-janet-tv-4enough you will figure out what they mean, but there’s no guarantee that the team will nail what the skip wants to happen.    Just as in softball, signals can be misread, and mistakes can always take place.  That adds to the tension and drama.

 

The trick is in watching the broom: While standing on the other side of the ice, the skip will point with the broom to show the team where the stone needs to reach.  So, even if you don’t understand the signals exactly, if you watch the broom you can at least see where the stone is supposed to end up.

 
4. It Takes the Lightest Touch
 

If you’ve ever watched a game of curling, you’ve likely seen the moments where the stone just barely misses the mark.  There are many possible reasons for this miss. Perhaps the sweeping either didn’t get the stone to the distance or give the stone the curl it needed.  Maybe it curling-janet-tv-5didn’t bump the opponent out of the way or it didn’t make it into the home to gain the much-needed point.

 

Many ice sports require a delicate touch because of the slippery ice magnifies even the smallest error.  That said, curling is the only ice sport that truly requires an extremely technical, firm, yet light-handed touch 100% of the time.  Push the rock too hard, and you may not score; too light, and you may not, either.  With only so many scoring opportunities, every move is critical. The perfect touch makes viewers bite their nails in hopes that their team has the right feel for the ice that day.

 
5. Sweeping is the Key
 

The sweepers use the broom to create friction to slightly heat the ice to allow a smoother line of travel for the stone.  In many ways, the sweepers have the main burden of getting the stone to its desired location once it leaves the thrower’s hands.

 

curling-janet-tv-6The sweepers really make everyone hold their breath when they are sweeping.  They have to be completely ready to move with quickly to get that stone where it needs to be. Their hand, eye and foot coordination would probably qualify them as one of the best athletes around. Their margin of error is so slim that, if they bump the stone even a little bit, their throw is disqualified.  Talk about a stressful situation.

 

With every turn, sweeping is easily the most tense few seconds in the throw. Who would have thought a broom could hold everyone’s attention?

 
6. All Hands on the Stone!
 

Every member on the curling team—the Lead (pushes the first two stones), Second (throws the third and fourth stones and sweeps), Third (throws the fifth and sixth stones and helps with strategy) and Skip (determines strategy and throws the last two stones)—are all responsible curling-janet-tv-1for what turns the games takes.  In fact, given that curling may be the ultimate team sport (because everyone on the team has some responsibility on every shot), a proper “fit” at each position is essential. Offensive and defensive strategies are on everyone’s shoulders. That helps give the game its edge.

 

If everyone isn’t on the same page, then the team cannot succeed. If some team members are thinking of a defensive strategy to knock the opponent’s stone out of the way while the others are thinking it’s time to score, they probably should go play hockey.  Curling takes consensus. And anyone deviating from that consensus will cost them the game.

 

The Winter Olympics are just around the corner. Make sure you’re watching curling!

 
CLICK HERE to see JanetTV.com’s list of Curling Glossary Terms.
 

###    www.JanetTV.com.  Sport: It’s A Female Thing! 

 

CLICK HERE to see JanetTV.com’s list of Curling Glossary Terms.
 

Sport: It’s A Female Thing!

JanetTV.com

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