Curling: Sleeper Sport or a Sweeper Sport?


Andrew B. Scott/USA Today

Matt Hamilton and the U.S. men’s curling squad won their opening tilt at the Olympics.

Ulysses Conrad, Staff Reporter

If you watched this year’s Winter Olympics, you surely saw the skiers, snowboarders and hockey teams. But one sport you might have missed doesn’t get nearly the coverage it should: the noble sport of curling. Curling, a winter sport played on ice, is as confusing and complicated as a board game, earning it the nickname “Chess on Ice.” It is one of the most unique Olympic sports, a hidden gem of interesting game play.

Invented in the early 16th century, curling has its roots in medieval Scotland. Though nowadays the sport is dominated by our northern neighbors, the Canadians, the sport, honors its heritage with the playing of bagpipes before each game. One of the more fascinating moments of Winter Olympics ‘22 in Beijing was the sight of Chinese bagpipers (since only foreign competitors or coaches were allowed to enter the country).

As for the rules of the sport, they are exceptionally complicated.

Curling is played with teams of four players on a “sheet” of ice typically 150 feet long, with two bulls eyes (called Houses) on each end. These have a blue, white, and red ring which range in size from largest to smallest. A “stone” (a round 40 pound granite rock) is slid from one end of the sheet to the other. Each team slides one stone at a time, alternating until eight stones apiece are thrown. The goal: get your stone closer to the center of the bullseye than the other team.

Now here’s where the actual curling comes in: when the stone is released, members of the team sweep the ice helping to alter its path.

At the ‘22 games, the US team came in 4th behind Norway, Germany and China. Curling is still a fantastic sport, one of politeness and strategy. Give it a chance. It may just inspire you to curl.