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Why Curling Is The Geekiest/Nerdiest Winter Olympic Sport


Sadly, the Sochi Winter Olympics are now over, and mostly everyone watched a few Olympic sports.  And yes, even geeks and nerds watched the Olympic Games as well, since mostly everything else is on repeat during the games.  While archery is one of the geekiest Summer Olympic sports, the geekiest/nerdiest Winter Olympic sport has to be Curling!

Curling got its start in Scotland in the 1500’s.  In today’s game of Curling, the playing surface is called The Sheet.  The competition playing dimensions are 150 feet long by about 15 feet wide.  The sheet is covered with tiny droplets of water that become ice and cause the stones to curl, or deviate from a straight path. These water droplets are known as pebbles.  At each end of the playing sheet is The House, which is a big bullseye.  In the center of The House is called the Button.  And the object of the game is to get your stones closer to the Button than your opponent’s stones.

When a player launches a stone down the ice, the stone touches the pebbles all across the playing ice, which causes friction.  The friction can slow down the stone and make it curl away from its straight path to the house.  Two players carry brooms while the stone is going down the ice.  The brooms, and sweeping motion, raises the temperature of the ice by a few degrees, which diminishes the friction between the pebble and the stone and keeps the stone moving in a straight line.  Sweeping the ice does move the stone further down the ice versus not sweeping.  Infographic from The Times of London.


Each team has four players, the lead, the skip, a second, and a third.  And there are 10 ends in each game.  In each end, each team launches eight stones down the ice, and each player will launch two stones per end.  Once all 16 stones have been shot, the team with the stone that’s closest to the button wins the end and scores a point.  The winning team gets a point for each of its stones that are in the house and closer to the button than the other team’s closest stone.  At each end, each team can score up to eight points.  If there are no stones in the house, than its called a blank end and no points are scored.  And games do not have to go to 10 ends.  After 6 ends, if the game is out of hand, the losing team concedes the match, it’s a Curling tradition!

What makes this game appealing to geeks/nerds, is the strategy.  And many geeks/nerds love playing games!  There are three main strategies in curling, one is called the guard, where stones are placed in front of the house to defend.  Opponents can also do takeout shots to knock out the opponent’s stones.  The third type of shot is called the draw, where the shooter avoids other stones to land their stone in the house.  As you can see, the shots can result in a wide number of results, it depends on how the shooter shoots his stone.

In many games geeks/nerds play ranging from board games, card games, and console games.  Strategy is often a major part of the game, and you get plenty of strategy in Curling.  While you watch a game, you see the players use their brooms to point where the shooter needs to shoot their stone.  And you will see the four players often huddle and discuss the different outcomes that can happen when they shoot their stone.  Yes, an average game of curling can last around two hours, but that’s about the same time a board, card, or console game can take!

Curling is the geekiest/nerdiest Winter Olympic game for one reason, it’s strategic!  I am glad to see more and more people getting introduced to the game of Curling.  Now, we need to get better players for our USA Olympic teams, because our men and women Curling teams have not done too well during the Olympic games.  The Team USA Curling teams are only part-time and the members have full-time careers.  But most countries have their Curling teams practicing full-time and 365 days a year.  If our Curling teams needs to play and practice full-time so we can medal in the Winter Olympic games, then that needs to happen!  Team USA can be better at Curling!


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2 replies »

  1. I hate to bust your bubble, but I’ve been curling for 40 some odd years, and competitively for the most part, and we in Canada don’t curl all year around. In Canada, as in Europe there are more competitive events during the season, and the very competitive teams travel back and forth. If you want to be good, you have to go where the competition is. You are going to loss a lot of games, and it’s going to cost money, but as long as you have a decent coach, and you learn from your mistakes, you will be a better curler. Just like every other sport, you have to practice. You guys kick our butts in basketball. Even though we invented it !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Cool. Yeah, you have to practice, and the Canadian teams both won gold in Sochi, while here in America our teams struggled! More and more teams around the world, like China, now have teams that compete and practice year-around. The China team even travels to countries like Canada to compete. Yeah, the Olympics is becoming more and more professional, is that a good or bad thing? Thanks for commenting!