Putting the Curl in Curling
Posted by Casey on October 27, 2007
Well, I played my second game of curling last night and my team won. Yeah. We actually didn’t do bad once I got the hang of throwing the first two stones lighter than heavier. Skill in knowing how much muscle to put behind the stone and releasing it so it curls properly is only half the equation. The other half is the ever changing condition of the ice.
The ice can be fast or slow and it can have rough or slick patches that will alter the course of the stone. The condition of the ice changes as stone after stone rolls over it and as slick paths are created by the sweepers and the players who glide on the Teflon soles. Also last night, the door to the ice was left open for a while. That warmed the rink down and, while it was more comfortable temperature wise, the ice got slicker and slicker and nearly every stone was too heavy–rolling all the way through the house. After someone closed the door, the ice hardened, changing the playing conditions again.
I’m getting better at keeping up with the faster stones while sweeping. Sweeping is a lot harder than it looks. First off you’re running kind of sideways on the ice, watching the stone, watching and listening to the Skip for instructions, watching for other sweepers in the neighboring lane, watching for guard stones in your path . . . it really gets fun when you have to do all this while you’re sweeping the ice in front of the stone.
Now that I’m getting the hang of doing the basic things, I’m paying more attention to the strategy of the game. Being the Lead, I throw the first two stones that are hopefully guards or draws and I sweep for the other players. A game lasts two to two-and-a-half hours and has ten ends. That means I throw twenty stones and sweep sixty. No wonder my back feels it in the morning.
Part way through last night, I realized I was really enjoying myself. It was a turning point in my mind from beginner to actual contributing member of the team. Two weeks ago we were two beginners, a player with experience, and a player who’s been curling all his life. This week we were gelling as a team, concentrating more on strategy than on figuring out what we were doing.
The best thing, I haven’t fallen yet, and I’m wearing regular shoes.