At the PyeongChang Winter Olympics- one sports event made its debut on the frozen stage: mixed doubles curling. It generated a lot of excitement from curling enthusiasts and sparked curiosity among those who don’t know much about the sport.
CGTN’s Frances Kuo visited the Potomac Curling Club in the Washington, D.C. area to try it out.
Is it skating?
Is it scrubbing?
Is it shuffleboard?
To curling fanatics, they’ve heard it all.
Eric Clawson got the bug 15 years ago.
“I’ve always loved the obscure sports, and this fit right in that category,” said Clawson. Then, he got his son Eli playing. He now competes on the national level.
“I started curling when I was seven and just been hooked ever since,” said Eli.
Eric Clawson helped sweep away some of the mystery from the sport, explaining the basics starting with the footwear. Curlers don’t use ice skates.
“This is just a gripper that will fit inside your shoe, allowing you to be on the ice. In my shoe, they’re already built in.”
The ice on which curlers play has a different surface than an ice rink.
THE LANGUAGE OF CURLING :
Bonspiel:A curling competition or tournament.
House: The bullseye-looking circle of rings at the end of the icy surface to which play is directed.
Skip: The player who determines and directs the game with his commands.
Sheet: The icy surface on which a curling game is played.
Stone:The granite tool used by players. On average, it weighs 19 kilograms.
Sweeping:The act of quickly moving a brush or broom on the icy surface to make a stone move farther.
Frozen water droplets are sprayed to create tiny bumps on the ice, reducing friction between the stone. The stone weighs, on average, 19 kilograms, and is made from a rare material.
“And the interesting part of this is the very special granite that is the running surface, the part that actually touches the ice,” said Clawson. “It’s a special stone from Scotland. And it’s very durable.”
To begin, a player launches from one foot and slides with the other while pushing the stone in front of him. The player can guide the stone to “curl” or shift in one direction or another.
The goal is to try to get it as close to the center of the “house” – the bullseye-looking circles at the opposite end.
That’s where the sweeping comes in. Sweeping is critical for fine-tuning the path of the stone and allowing it to travel farther but not faster. The “skip,” or team captain, yells out commands from the house.
Beyond that, it’s also a mind game – trying to predict your opponents’ next moves.
“Many people call it Chess on Ice, because the strategy is really the important part,” said Clawson. So is a strong physique. “It requires a lot of balance, a lot of core strength, and a lot of sweeping strength.”
“From watching it, you can’t tell how much it is a sport so people think it’s easier than it is,” said player Odessa Howera.
Curling is gaining traction around the world.
The Curling World Cup will make its debut in China in September.
More than $13 million will be invested over the next four years to grow the sport in the country.
Some players admit the sport doesn’t get the respect it deserves.
But to get there, fans will take their best shot.
“You have no idea until you try!” said Clawson.