As the first snowflakes appear, we all start gearing up for three to four months of winter fun. While obvious sports like skiing and sledding peak through the winters, indoor games like curling can be a lot of fun too. Not your run-of-the-mill activity, curling dates back to early 1800s when the kings and queens of Scotland curled in their winter castles. Eventually, it spread all over the world and was played first at the Olympic Winter Sports in 1924.
While curling, players aim at sliding polished granite stones/rocks across sheets of ice at the target which is similar to a dart board, except it’s imprinted on the horizontal sheet of ice. The target has four rings and is called ‘house’. Four players divided into teams of two each, take turns to achieve the best score in the game using aiming skills. Eight stones are provided to each team and the points are scored based on where the stones rest on the concentric rings; the closer one is to the house, the higher the points scored. Once each team has used up all their stones, it is called as an end and each game has eight to ten such ends.
What makes curling so much fun is that the curlers can actually Bend it like Beckham! The stones can be set into a curved path by the curler and requires immense skill on making a stone obey you on a sheet of ice. Two sweepers with brooms accompany the rollicking stone as it skates down the ice sheet and can alter its course by sweeping the ice lying ahead on its path. All this precision and meticulous planning has earned this sport the nickname ‘Chess on Ice’.
Numerous songs and sitcoms have featured curling as the lead theme of their episode while a Canadian film called Men with Brooms centered entirely on this icy chess. What sets this sport apart from others is that it requires not just immense physical fitness especially of the shoulder and elbow joint, but needs accuracy, planning and an on-the-toes approach throughout the game. It’s a fantastic combination of a thinker’s game like chess and a physical sport like ice hockey.
So this winter, if you fear losing your head in an avalanche of snow or breaking a shoulder in ice hockey, remember that it doesn’t take a woman to curl!
Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, M.D.