Curling Stones

Curling is one of the few Olympic games that piques your interest when you give it a decent glare. Strategies and intense discussions go into planning moves as the game develops. Unsurprisingly, it is referred to as chess on ice. The game might seem an exercise in tedium if one is an amateur to rules that regulate the game. However, an acquaintance to the intricacies and planning that go into a single move, stokes your curiosity to a liking for the eccentric sport.

Curling has its origins in the medieval age’s regal Scottish class of traders and aristocrats. Curling as a lexical contribution was made by Henry Adamson in the preface and verses of his poems, around 1620 in Perth. A century later in 1838, the Grand Caledonian Club was instituted in Edinburgh, to regulate the ancient game with laws. In 1838 under King George III, 20 merchants and a chaplain founded The Royal Montreal Curling Club, the oldest active athletic club in North America. The first curling championship, The Scotch Cup, was held in Edinburgh in 1959. Canada won the first formal championship. Curling was formally incorporated to the list of Olympic games in 1998.

Curling which started as a Scottish game is ipso facto marked by Canadian dominance. A monolithic infrastructure by any standards is accompanied by a complementing and rich curling culture. Faye Price, a Canadian blogger and curling enthusiast, provides an insight, “Curling in Canada is more than a sporting event.  It is a social gathering.  When winter swoops down and covers the land in an icy blanket of snow, life can be found at the local curling rink. The game takes place on a sheet of ice but the real shots are made behind glass in the warmth of the seating area.  Here, armchair skips make the correct calls, have the perfect weight, and always know when to call the sweepers on.  Discussions about what is happening on the ice are mixed with chats about the local gossip.” The 1998 Canadian curling skipper, Sandra Schimler, who brought the First Women’s curling gold medal home, is revered as one of the greatest Canadian athletes. The Olympic body of Canada has even commissioned the University of West Ontario to research the science behind perfect Curling moves, a part of its $ 8 million effort to help them ascend the Olympic podiums.

In fact, Curling telecasts like the annual Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Women’s Championship) and Tim Hortons Brier (Men’s Championship) attract a good audience every year. The winners the event go on to represent Canada at World Championships, the same year. They also get to sport the Maple Leaf in the ensuing year’s National tournaments. World championships are a keenly contested event, involving Canada,  Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany (West Germany), Scotland, the United States and Norway; each having won the tournament at least once.

The game, its rules and tradition, are indeed an interesting subject to pursue. The cult following has ensured numerous references in popular culture. Remember In help, the second film by The Beatles or the 21st season Simpson’s ‘Boy meets Curl’ episode. For many, it is the initial bizarreness that attracts them to the game, while for other it’s the aristocratic history. Whatever the genesis for that curiosity is the synergy of strategy and teamwork provides a great sporting spectacle.

Ankit Maheshwari