At first sight, curling might look quite weird: people are moving over ice and trying to let a rock slide over it. This is quite different from other sports or activities. What is going on and is this a sport? Let’s discuss this.
What is curling?
Curling is a sport in which players slide heavy, granite stone down an ice-covered track towards a target. To succeed, you need to have good aim, quick reactions, and strong will.
This activity originates from Scotland where it was first played in the 18th century. Today, it is played all over the world with approximately 50 countries participating at various levels. It has also become an official sport at the Winter Olympics.
Curling is played on a track that measures about 140 feet (42.5 meters) on about 14 feet (4.3 meters).
The goal of the game is to get your stone down the sheet of ice towards the center of the target area (or house). This allows you to see where your stone is relative to the one of the other team. The team that is able to get the stone closest to the target wins. It is petanque (or bocce ball) on ice but instead of balls, you use a stone.
There are several ways to do this:
- -You can push the stone down the sheet and chance the direction before the red line. Once the stone has passed the red line, players are not allowed to touch it anymore. Players can’t lift the stone as it has to slide over the ice.
- -You can sweep the ice to change the direction of the stone. Sweeping makes the ice warm and lets the stone slide faster. This affects how far the stone gets on the track.
- – You can push one stone against another one and push it forward.
This game can be played in a team (of 2 or 4 players per team) or individually. It is very popular in Canada, Switzerland and Norway. It is quite easy to find a club there. This might be harder to do in other countries as this activity might not be known in your area.
Athletes have to practice their swiping technique and also work on their skating. Curling is done on ice and it can be quite challenging to swipe and skate at the same time. This is why players often have multiple coaches so that they can perfect each aspect of their performance.
- Teams have multiple chances to score. Every match has 8 rounds. Each round has 8 stones. In total there are 64 chances to score.
Players turn the stone to make it easier to control. This is why this activity is called curling. The stone has a handle to make it easier to do this. Players spend a lot of time studying how fast the stone should turn.
What is a sport?
The word “sport” is used as a synonym for physical activity or exercise. You might say that someone is a “sport” because they are active and fit. But what does it mean to be a sport? In the broad definition, it means a physical activity that requires certain skills.
Stricter definitions also require that sports have a competitive element. An activity needs 3 components before it can be considered a sport according to these definitions:
1/ A physical activity
2/ That requires a skill
3/ And has a competitive element
In today’s world, most sports involve competitive games where the goal is to beat your opponent. This means that you can’t participate in a sport without having an opponent.
A lot of sports can be viewed on TV and a lot of people have a favorite athlete. This can inspire them to start practicing this sport as well.
Is curling a sport?
Based on the previous definition, we can state that curling is a sport. Even in the narrow definition of the word, it can be seen as a sport as it fulfills all the requirements. It is a physical activity as players have to move around to push the stone forward. It requires some skill as you have to be able to aim in the right direction and use the correct amount of power to get it moving. Some people might think that doesn’t take a lot of skill but this is probably because they have never tried curling!
Finally, there is also a competitive element. Curling is played in several competitions and the winners can get medals. Teams practice a lot to perfect their technique and strategy. It is possible to score multiple points per round. The amount of points that the teams get depends on the location of the stone and where the stones of the other team are. For example, a team can win the round but get only one point. This makes this sport very dynamic and unpredictable.
Each team has a captain (or skip) that decides where the stone would go. This person gives instructions to the other people in the team and they try to win based on this strategy. Next to technique, teams also have to think about what approach will work. This is why they often study their matches to see what could have been improved.
The last team gets the ‘hammer’. This means that they can play the last stone of the round and change the location of the stones.
To conclude, we can state that curling is a sport. It is a unique activity that is cool to do but not a lot of people are performing this sport. You need ice to be able to do this and not every location has this. This is why the sport is mainly popular in Canada, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland while it is an Olympics sport. We can expect that it will become more popular in the years to come.
During the summer a lot of curling athletes pick up water sports to remain active. We have discussed what water sports are here.