Winter Olympics 2018 is underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the one sport which has caught the attention of the media and viewers because of its unique nature is curling.

Player sliding the granite stone

Famously known as the “chess on ice”, curling is a sport which deserves the spotlight not because it is an official sport being played at the Winter Olympics but because it is one of the most interesting and difficult games you would ever come across!

Curling is a game that demands immense physical and mental skill along with a great deal of strategy and teamwork although it seems to be easy. And one of the most amazing things about this sport is that it can be played by people of all age groups and genders together as well as against each other.

Watch this video to know how this game looks like:

What is Curling All About?

Curling is an ice sport in which players of a particular team take turns in sliding granite stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area called the ‘house’. The main purpose of each team is to get their stones as close to the house as possible for which it receives points. And the team which has the maximum points at the end of the game claims victory.

Sweepers sweeping the stone till the house

Sounds like a simple game of sliding stones across an ice sheet, doesn’t it? How difficult can that be?

Well, it is much more complicated than this.

The artificial sheet of ice on which the game is played is the most important component of this sport which can at times be a game changer!

This 45×5 meter long ice sheet is covered with tiny droplets of water which become ice (called pebbles) and cause the stone to ‘curl’ or deviate from its straight path. Basically, these droplets are there as an obstacle in the path of the stone to prevent it from travelling greater distances and reach the house.

As the stone slides over the pebbles, it causes them to rotate and curl inwards or outwards. Hence the name – ‘curling.’

The granite stones also rocked rocks

Now a team consists of four players: the lead, second, third and the skip who is the team leader. Each player slides two stones by turn starting from the lead and thus one round or ‘end’ consists of eight stones being slid by each team. In the end of an ‘end’, the team whose stone would lie the closest to the house will score a point in that “end”.

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The Slider slides the stone across the ice sheet

However, the beauty of this strategic game is that each of the four players has a significant role to play in taking the stone to the house. While one player slides the stone, two other players are responsible for sweeping the ice in front of it.

After the stone is delivered, its trajectory can be manipulated by the sweepers. Sweeping not only helps in reducing friction underneath the stone, it decreases the number of curls by cleaning the pebbles on the ice in front of it (as can be seen in the above video).

The stone tends to slow down after its release due to friction and curling, so to make it travel greater distances and reach the target house sweeping is vital. Sweeping is done with the skip (team leader) standing near the target house and instructing the sweepers in the direction in which the stone needs to go.

The sweepers sweep the ice in front of the stone to manipulate its trajectory

So, as you can imagine, curling is a game of strategy, tactics and pure skill.

A Little About The Curling Sportsmanship

A good sportsman spirit is important in any sport. It prevents the buildup any kind of animosity between the competing teams and also helps in maintaining a positive environment during the game which motivates the teams to perform their best. And a good sportsmanship is an integral part of curling. It is also known as the ‘spirit of curling.’

Teams should congratulate their opponents during and after the game

The spirit of curling is upheld at all costs. The teams are obligated to congratulate their opponents on winning and even during the game on making a good shot or a strong sweep. But the most important idea behind this spirit of curling is that one should never jeer at the mistakes, misses or embarrassments of the opponents and make fun of it.

One should not celebrate one’s victories with loud public gestures during the game as well like players are spotted doing in other games such as football or cricket.

All this underlines the fact that the game of curling is not just an Olympic sport but a way to demonstrate one’s skills in team leading, team building as well as strategy and decision making. This game is not only demanding in its own right but also gracefully encourages a spirited way of living with a genuine respect for others.

And that is why I feel that this sport should be popularized more in the world so that more and more individuals are motivated to play this game and experience the amazing feel of curling!

Sources:, Wikipedia,, ESPN

Images Source: Google Images

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