Olympic Curling is Like Shuffleboard on Ice
Winter Olympic Curling Changes
Things changed markedly in the world of Olympic Curling between 2009 - 2014
With the 2010 Winter Olympics, the whole world had another chance to view curling as a winter sport. The Olympiad is the only chance some spectators have to see this lesser-known event, since ice is required for play.
In 2009, curling and hockey championships specifically for the deaf were instituted and the 2010 Paralymics had their second celebration of Wheelchair Curling as a medal event, with co-ed teams.
Curling is expanding in participation and viewership and has no age limit among spectators or athletes.
Movement across ice is always intriguing and eye-catching. The elongated lunge of the curling team member in launching the stone down the icy twin of the shuffleboard court is like ballet movements and kungfu stances. The broomers in front of the gliding stone are reminiscent of chickens pecking at a moving corn kernel.
Team USA for Sochi 2014
Women's Curling Team or Rink
- Erika Brown, Captain/Skip
- Debbie McCormick
- Jessica Schultz
- Ann Swisshelm - With many years of experience in curling, Ann is 45 years old going into the Olympiad in 2014 and is the oldest person competing for the USA at Sochi.
- Allison Pottinger
- John Shuster, Captain/Skip
- Jeff Isaacson
- Jared Zezel
- John Landsteiner
- Craig Brown
2014 USA Wheelchair Team (Coeducational):
- Skip: Patrick McDonald, US Military Veteran.
- Third: David Palmer
- Second: Jimmy Joseph, returning from the 2010 Winter Olympic in Vancouver.
- Lead: Penny Greely
- Alternate: Meghan Lino
2014 USA Seniors National Team
The US Senior National Curling Championships, open to those ages 50+, is held in each January yearly. In 2014, this placed the event just prior to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Southern Russia.
The Senior Nationals began in 2002 and from the records, it appears that teams can include either four or five members. (At this writing, the 2014 event in Wisconsin is not yet completed.)
Winners of the 2014 event will happily proceed to the World Senior Championships during April 22-29 in Dumfries, Scotland (Scotland, where we think the sport began).
Three times as many men's teams compete in the nationals as do women's teams (21 to 7).
Women's Championship Rink for 2013:
Competing and winning in Fairbanks, Alaska
- Margie Smith
- Norma O'Leary
- Debbie Dexter
- Shelly Kosal
- Lucy DeVore
Men's Championship Rink for 2013:
Competing and winning in Fairbanks, Alaska
- Gert Messing
- Dennis Mellerup
- Bill Nickle
- Bill Peskoff
38 Seconds Says it All: Scott Tournament of Hearts
USA Juniors National Team
People can compete in curling from a young age all the way through their senior years.
The Junior Nationals began on Sunday night January 26, 2014 in Seattle, Washington and the winning teams will go onto the World Junior Nationals from February 26 through March 6 in Switzerland.
The Seattle event included 10 men's teams and 10 women's teams competing in male and female divisions.
What is Curling?
Curling is a traditional sport much like shuffleboard played on ice, with specialized sliding shoes and game equipment. In community groups and church youth groups, the game is often played with brooms and a basketball and called “broomball” either on ice or a gymnasium floor.
As official broomball with the original equipment, the game resembles hockey, especially in its origin nation of Canada, but has many variations around the USA.
On the ice with traditional equipment, curling somewhat resembles croquet as well as shuffleboard. Curling is a team sport that originated in cold winter climates in the UK and many researchers believe that Scotland in medieval times was the starting point in the first half of the 16th Century - as early as 1511.
Overview of the Game
Two teams, called rinks, of four players each compete in a Bonspiel (match) on a rectangular sheet of bumpy or "pebbled") ice that contains a target and other official demarcations.
The equipment includes
- a broom, a pushing device that closely resembles a Swiffer Floor Cleaner or a push-broom, or even an actual corn broom in the Canadian variation
- thinly Teflon®-soled shoes
- a 19-kg/42-pound (Olympic weight) granite stone with a handle rising out of the top, positioned horizontal to the floor. Teams were outfits that may look like bowling slacks and shirts, kilts and blouses, or snowsuits (outdoors).
A team member slides a stone down the ice towards the house, a target much like an archery target. Two sweepers from the same team use brooms in a specific strategy in front of the sliding stone to smooth the way and guide the stone to a specific end point.
A game of curling is made up of 10 rounds called ends. each end consists of each of the 4 team members throwing a total of 2 s
tones, alternately, with the opponent's team members. This is 8 stones per team. One point is scored for each stone that hits the center of the bullseye target or "house." The team with the most points after 10 ends in the winner.
See the various rules for tie-breakers in the links to Curling Organizations included in this article.
The Technique of Sweeping
Sweeping is not easy, even though some spectators think it looks silly and unnecessary. The ice lane is pebbled or bumpy and the sweeping smooths the way for a stone to hit its precisely intended target point. In this respect, the game is like pool.
Sweeping takes up a lot of energy as well, because it must be fast and sustained for a short time period, like a sprint. Competitive curling requires a high physical fitness level, especially in endurance for all team members while brooming and in flexibility in all team members that "throw" the stone. Timing and teamwork are especially important as well.
Of the four team members that play in turn in the style of a swimmer's marathon, we have:
- The Lead
- The Second Lead
- The Vice Skip
- The Captain or Skip (Skipper)
All four team members must be able to throw the stone well and to broom well.
The teams alternate their players against each other as in bowling, each throwing a stone - first one lead, then the other, etc. After a stone is thrown, two broomers from the same team must go into action immediately, so teamwork is mandatory. If all three remaining team members try to broom, it is a rule infraction; if only 1 or no broomers act, then the throw is wasted.
Dimensions and Materials
Ice Sheet: The playing lane or rink is 42.07 meters by 4.28 meters wide with a target (house) at either end.
Shoes: Special shows are worn, with a Teflon® coating on the sliding shoe for throwing the stone. An alternative in a slip on layer of Teflon®
Stone: Also called a rock, the Olympic weight is 44 pounds, but some curling clubs use a 42-pound stone. As of this writing, all stones are made from granite (see the video for the process). Olympic stones are made only of granite from Scotland's Ailsa Craig. The sound of the stone hitting ice has led to the nickname "The Roaring Game."
For additional information, dimensions, and digarams, see the links to the right. Canadian rules differ somewhat from world rules.
20th Century Developments
Men's Curling was an Olympic Winter Event in 1924, was dropped, and was brought back in 1932 as a demonstration sport for men. It reappeared again in 1988 and 1992 as a demonstration sport for men and women.
Curling was added as a medal sport at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, with both men and women participating in 8-team events.
In 2010, men and women compete in 10-team events for medals. Recreational curling contains a division for mixed doubles (co-ed) teams, but that division is not represented at the Olympics. Curling is also a medal events in the Paralympics and Wheelchair Curling has become popular. Dear curling has gained recognition as well, as mentioned above.
In American Pop Culture
Homer and Marge celebrated "The Simpsons" 20th anniversary with an episode airing during 2010 Winter Games. In this episode, Homer and Marge represented the United States on the Olympic Curling Team.
First Deaf Games Held in 2009
Curling and ice hockey celebrated their first events for the deaf community of athletes in mid-April 2009 at the First World Deaf Ice Hockey and Curling Championships at the MTS Centre in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada with Walter Gretsky (see video below).
2014 Olympic Curling Medals
2. Great Britain
3. Great Britain
2014 Winter Olympics Qualifying Nations and Medals
- Russia - Qualified automatically as the Olympiad host nation. The Paralympics team won the Silver Medal.
Nations qualifying by points earned in the following order, with finals medals listed:
- Canada: Men's and Women's Gold Medals; Paralympics Gold Medal
- Sweden: Men's Bronze; Women's Silver
- Great Britain: Men's Silver; Women's Bronze; Paralympics Bronze
- United States
- South Korea
Canadian 2014 Gold Medal Olympic Curling Teams
Women's Canadian Team:
- Jennifer Jones - Skip and Captain
- Kaitlyn Lawes - Third
- Jill Officer - Second
- Dawn McEwen - Lead
- Kirsten Wall - Fifth
Men's Canadian Team:
- Brad Jacobs - Slip and Captain
- Ryan Fry - Third
- E.J. Harnden - Second
- Ryan Harnden - Lead
- Caleb Flaxey - Fifth
Canadian 2014 Wheelchair Gold Medal Curling Team:
- Jim Armstrong - Skip
- Dennis Thiessen - Vice-Skip
- Ina Forrest - Second
- Sonja Gaudet - Lead
- Mark Ideson- Alternate
Canadian 2014 Seniors Curling Team (Coeducational):
- Colleen Pinkney - Slip and Captain
- Wendy Currie - Third
- Shelley MacNutt - Second
- Susan Creelman - Lead
- Wayne Tallon - Skip and Captain
- Mike Kennedy - Third
- Mike Flannery - Second
- Wade Blanchard - Lead
2010 Olympic Curling Medals
Women's Team USA 2010
- Debbie McCormick - Captain
- Allison Pottinger
- Nicole Joraanstad
- Natalie Nicholson
- Tracy Sachtjen
- Wally Henry - Coach
Both Men's and Women's Teams have one alternate.
Men's Team USA 2010
- John Shuster - Captain
- John Benton
- Jeff Isaacson
- Jason Smith
- Chris Plys
- Phill Drobnick - Coach. Age 28; curled for 22 years, since age 6.
The Men's team is considerably better publicized than the Women's team. The Men's team was on Facebook for awhile.
Vancouver 2010 Paralympics Curling Medals
SILVER: South Korea
2010 Canadian Wheelchair Team
- Jim Armstrong - Captain - Begfan curling at age 8 and switched to Paralympics after back and knee injuries in life. A several-time award winner.
- Darryl Neighbour - Injured in his construction job, he plays several wheelchair sports and is a public speaker.
- Ina Forrest - Owns a business with her husband and is a parent and foster parent,
- Chris Sobkowicz - 35 years in wheelchair sports.
- Sonja Gaudet - Certified Teachers Assistant nd member of the 2006 Torino Canadian Olympic Team Gold Medal Winners.
- Jacqueline Roy - 30 years of wheelchair sports and a Baby Boomer from Canada, winner of the 2009 British Columbia Premier’s Sport Award.
- Bruno Yizek - Project Manager for the Hendrix Foodservice Equipment Company.
- Joe Rea - Coach
2010 USA Wheelchair Team
- Augusto Perez - Captain - A cancer survivor, this is his second Paralympics.
- James Pierce - Several year of experience and several wins.
- Patrick McDonald - US Army Veteran
- Jacqui Kapinowski - She has completed 45 marathons in different ways - running, with a walker, and with a wheelchair.
- James Joseph - Owns his own business, Jimmy Jam Snowplowing.
Sources: Curling Organizations and Rules
- United States Curling Association (USCA)
The motto of the US organization is Curling Rocks!
- CCA Rules for General Play
Canadian Curling Association rules.
- World Curling Federation
Welcome to the official website of the World Curling Federation, founded 1966. Curling made its Olympic debut at the 1924 Chamonix Winter Games.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Patty Inglish MS