He who says that curling is a different sport compared to what we are used to see in arenas or on television is not mistaken. Good sportsmanship is a basic behavior for the players and is a part of this game.
Only a few sports nowadays are not stained by hooliganism and violence. Fair play is the very spirit of this game, and it is already a tradition. Similarly to other games, such as darts, the loser has the greatest respect for the winner, but the winner also has consideration for his partner. Some of them even love to hear music during their free time to reduce the stress level.
Why Is This Sport an Example of High Morale?
The Spirit of Curling is the moral norm that all the players adopt, without any exceptions. It makes teams congratulate their opponents each time the latter score higher. The same tradition dictates a player to apologize if his throw produces an advantageous result by simple accident or fluke.
The same moral code imposes that one will never cheer misses or mistakes of his opponent and will not celebrate a good shot during the game, unlike other sports where this behavior is very common. Only modest congratulation between the members of the winning team is allowed after the match. Negative comments addressed to the opponent team are completely forbidden, as well as any indecent gesture.
A game begins with a traditional hand shake of the players and a “good curling” message addressed to each member of the other team. After the game, according to tradition, the winning team will buy the losing team a drink.
When a team realizes they have no chance to win the game, a very common practice is to concede the game even before completing all the ends. Conceding a game is an honorable gesture and has nothing to do with quitting, but rather creates more opportunities for socializing. Continuing to play when no realistic chances of winning the game exist would be a breach of etiquette. The teams often exchange wishes of good luck for the future.
The Etiquette in a Few Words
· Shake hands with your opponents before the game starts and wish them a good game.
· Congratulate them for every good shot.
· Never celebrate their mistakes or your own good shots during the game.
· Congratulate your opponents when they win the game.
· If you win, buy a drink to your opponents.
· Apologize for every lucky shot you make.
· Concede the game when no realistic winning chances remain.
If you are a curling player, follow this code and keep the spirit of the game alive.
Sweeping is a weird action for people who have never seen a curling game. Those two players with their brooms in hand, cleaning the ice surface in front of the stone, represent the picturesque aspect of this old game.
What Is Sweeping All about?
After the stone is thrown or delivered, its trajectory can still be modified by the two sweepers, following the indications of the skip. There are two main reasons why sweeping is necessary:
· To reduce eventual friction underneath the stone;
· To decrease the rotating effect of the stone.
As curling is accentuated when the stone slows down, sweeping done early is meant to increase the distance and straighten the path. Sweeping done after the sideways motion starts is meant to increase the sideways distance. Sweeping is an art, since both the speed and the pressure of the brush are extremely important in increasing the amount of moisture formed under the stone.
When to Sweep Is an Element of Strategy
One of the most important strategic elements in curling is knowing when to sweep. With the ice in front of the stone swept, the trajectory will be longer and straighter. There are situations when one of the alterations is not desirable. For instance, if a stone has too much weight, it may require sweeping in order to prevent hitting a guard. It is the decision of the team which is better – either going too far and getting by the guard or hitting it.
Usually, the sweepers are on opposite sides of the path that the stone will follow, but this does not happen in all cases. Since pressure and speed are essential to sweeping, the way a player is gripping the broom is very important. The angle made by the broom with the ice surface will give the force that has to be exerted on the sheet.
Sweeping is possible anywhere on the sheet, but only for the team’s own stones and up to the tee line. Once the tee line is crossed, only one player is allowed to sweep. As an exception to the rule, if a stone has crossed the tee line, a member of the opposite team is also allowed to sweep in front of the stone.
Although very simple at first sight, curling is subject to numerous regulations issued as a result of its multi-centennial history and was played during several editions of the Olympic Games.
The delivery phase in curling consists of sliding the stone on the ice sheet. The captain of the team, or the “skip”, is the one to decide the throw parameters, such as the “weight”, “turn”, and the “line” of the stone. All these parameters are influenced by the tactics adopted by the team at this point of the play, which is adapted to the goal that may be taking-out, tapping or blocking another stone.
What Do “Weight”, “Turn” and “Line” Mean?
The meanings of the above curling terms are:
· The weight is the velocity of the stone, depending on the leg drive of this phase rather than on the arm.
· The turn, also called “handle” or “curl”, is, in fact, the rotation of the thrown stone and is supposed to give the stone a curved trajectory.
· The line is equivalent to the direction that the thrown stone will take, ignoring the rotation effect.
The captain may transmit the weight, turn and line, as well as other tactic elements, by calling or tapping the broom on the sheet. If the indications refer to a takeout, tap or guard, the stones involved will also be indicated.
It is essential to have the running surface wiped clean before delivering the stone. The intended path also needs to be swept in order to eliminate any dirt in front of the stone that could alter the calculated trajectory.
The curling stone is thrown from the hack by one of the players, while the skip stays behind the button and determines the proper tactics and the weight, turn and line parameters. The other two members of the team will sweep in front of the stone, trying to influence its trajectory.
The gripper shoe – the one with a non-slippery sole – of the thrower must be positioned against a hack. The stone is put in front of the foot situated in the hack, then pushed ahead with a movement of the thrower’s body. This movement is complex enough and must transmit the necessary force to the stone, as well as a rotation that will make it take a curved trajectory when its speed decreases.
The combination of both movements makes the stone take a complicated path that only this sport may provide. The sweepers do the rest of the job, using their curling brooms to modify the trajectory of the stone in order to reach the proposed target.
Curling is a not very famous sport, believed to have been invented in the Middle Ages, in Scotland, when players used to throw stones on ice, aiming to place them in a circular area. Nowadays, players slide the stones over a surface of ice, trying to place them inside a preset area divided into four concentric rings.
About the Game
The game involves two teams of four players. The stones are made of polished granite. Each team launches eight stones, the purpose being to accumulate the maximum number of points for the game. Each stone resting close to the center of the circular area scores points.
There are ten or eight “ends” to play, each end consisting of alternate throws of both participating teams, every team having four stones to throw. If, at the end of the game, the teams are tied, play will continue with as many ends as necessary to break the tie.
International games in competitions include ten ends. Each team is given 73 minutes to make all of its throws.
Equipment Used in Competitions
Playing curling involves using several pieces of equipment, the most important being:
· The sheet – It is in fact the ice surface, prepared to be flat and even, as much as possible. A target area, the “house”, is marked at both ends of the sheet. It consists of three concentric colored rings. The center of the house is called the “button”. A “hack” is placed behind each button, giving the thrower a support to push against when he makes the throw.
· The stone – It is a thick disc of stone, usually granite, with a handle attached, to allow the thrower to hold it and rotate it upon release.
· The curling broom – It is used to sweep the sheet (the ice surface) on the path of the stone.
· The shoes – They resemble ordinary athletic shoes, but they have different soles. A “slider shoe” is made for the sliding foot, while the “non-sliding shoe” is made for the hack foot.
· The pants – They are stretchy, in order to accommodate the delivery of the stone
· The stopwatch – It is used to time the stones when sweeping, in order to get an idea on their speed.
· The curling gloves and mitten – These pieces of equipment are needed to keep the hands of the players warm and to provide a better grip on the broom.