By Jennifer Hallmark
When I think of the Winter Olympics, I envision skiing, bobsledding and figure skating. I love watching speed skating, snowboarding, and even watch luge while holding my breath. Lately, I’ve even flipped the television to curling. Curling? Huh?
Curling is a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four rings. It is related to bowls, boule 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 goes 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.”
Curling originated in Scotland in the 16th century and was introduced to the inaugural Winter Olympic Games in 1924 in Chamonix. At this moment, the Canadian men’s team is ranked number one in the world with the USA ranked eighth. Sweden tops the ranking in women’s curling and USA is ranked seventh. So if you enjoy chess on ice, don’t miss curling during the Sochi Olympics and after. Go USA!
For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_curling