How much do I know about curling? No, not the kind that requires tortuous hair preparation or a snarl of the lips. I’m talking about the sport that is now in the Winter Olympics with all the national pride that engenders. I’m vaguely aware of the rules and certainly know that in the last century up at the top of our hill there was a pond which froze over every year, providing and opportunities for local kids to indulge in a game which involved sliding a stone over the ice, regulated by ordinary household sweeping brushes. I think.
“Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric rings. It is related to bowls, boules and shuffleboard. Two teams, each of four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game may consist of ten or eight ends.
The curler can induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides, and the path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the sheet, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. A great deal of strategy and teamwork go into choosing the ideal path and placement of a stone for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine how close to the desired result the stone will achieve. This gives curling its nickname of “chess on ice”.
I do know that 70% of the world’s curling stones are quarried at Ailsa Craig, the volcanic plug which forms an island halfway between Southern Scotland and Northern Island. The sport definitely has its origins in Scotland, but it’s amazing to see how teams from Scandinavia and Canada and other countries have adapted it. Maybe the next step is the Jamaican Curling Team!
I love the proficiency of Olympic athletes, regardless of medals and countries. I always feel a small regret that I didn’t keep up my swimming when I could, but I don’t think curling would have ever been my area of expertise.
So we accept our limitations, appreciate the skills of the competitors and feel glad that we’re competing over athletics, instead of being at war.
I’m off to hospital again tomorrow for some minor adjustments which will contribute to well-being. And that can only be a good thing.
Meanwhile I can appreciate the fact that I am warm and watching the Olympics all the way from Russia and as Scarlett O’Hara was wont to say, “Tomorrow is another day”.