Curling fever sweeping the nation

The gold medal was also the first ever medal in curling for American curler Matt Hamilton and Team USA. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Pat Clemens
Staff Writer

The United States fared well and picked up a plethora of medals at the most recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However, one sport became of particular interest in the public eye.

The United States men’s team brought home the gold medal in the sport of curling. While obscure to most Americans, curling is a sport with a long history and a substantial amount of popularity in Canada and other nations around the world.

Curling was invented by the Scottish in the 16th Century and is typically played by two teams of 4 people. The teams take turns sliding uniquely shaped granite stones across a surface of ice, known as the sheet.

The name “curling” comes from the curling path of motion taken by the stones as they rotate and slide across the ice. The spinning motion of the stone and resulting “curl” is created by the person “throwing” the stone.

The thrower, while sliding along the ice wearing special shoes or shoe covers designed for the sport, puts a gradual spin on the stone via a handle on the top of the stone. The other members of the team have their famous brooms, which they use to reduce the amount of friction encountered by the sliding stone.

By sweeping, a team can make the stone slide faster, straighter, and farther.

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Points are scored in curling by getting stones in what is known as the “house.” The house is a 12-foot diameter circle on the ice. The center of the circle is known as the “button.”

Whichever team eventually has the stone closest to the button receives one point.

For each additional stone they have closer to the button than the opposing team’s closest stone to the button, the winning team can score an additional point.

The game is played over ten “ends,” which are like innings in baseball. An end consists of each of the 4 players playing 2 stones (8 total per team) in an alternating fashion with the opposing team. An end is completed when all 16 stones have been played.

Americans can now add a new sport to the list in which we have conquered, but curling still faces a substantial learning and popularity curve in the United States.

It certainly captivated us during the Winter Olympics, and we have an achievement in the sport to be proud of.

Perhaps our kids will grow up with brooms and stones instead of bats and gloves.