You’ve probably watched the sport on TV. You’ve probably switched the channel to something you thought was more interesting (ahem, hockey) but you probably didn’t realize just how interesting the sport could be. It is very popular in Canada, with over 1200 clubs, but it also defines our school, as we had two teams competing in this sport this year. Which sport is it? Curling: the only sport where you can throw rocks at houses.
Curling dates back to medieval Scotland. Back then, it was played on frozen ponds using flat-bottomed stones. Today, curling is played on a curling sheet, 45 m in length, with granite stones weighing 20 kg. A game is played by two opposing teams of four players. The purpose of the game is to score points by throwing rocks closer to the center of the house than the other team. The series of concentric circles found at each end of the sheet make up the house. Players alternate shooting their rocks, and each team plays eight rocks during an end. The captain of the team, known as the skip, provides the direction of the throw and the force used to throw the rock. The current thrower then aligns himself or herself with the line at the other end of the ice and delivers the rock by pushing out of the hack. Upon releasing the rock, he or she gives it a spin which ultimately makes the rock curl. It is the job of the sweepers to ensure that the rock arrives at the intended location by sweeping to slow the rock’s curl or to increase its traveling distance.
I joined the school’s curling team in Grade 10; I had never played a game before in my life. As a team, we are taught how to throw rocks at the skip’s line with the correct weight. We learn to read the rock’s speed to see if we need to sweep it. There is also a lot of other strategy involved; the skip has to set up guard rocks in front of the house, and must decide when to take out opposing rocks, and when to draw to gain points. Indeed, curling is colloquially known as “chess on ice”. I played for two seasons and I enjoyed both of them. There is a feeling of pride when you shoot that perfect rock that changes the game.
This year, both CCH curling teams played well during tournaments. The all-men’s team (consisting of Brody Wauters, Ethan David, Brendan Morden and myself) finished second in the Cities tournament and the mixed team (consisting of Garret McKay, Keely Watt, Catlin Theissen and Brianna LeBlanc) earned a silver in Zones.
Curling is more than watching people throw rocks on TV. It is a sport that one can experience only by playing. If you are interested in joining the team next year, talk to Mr. Le Bleu, the head coach of the team. Until then, rock on!
Quentin Golsteyn is a Grade Twelve student at CCH. When he is not working on his latest experiment as an evil scientist, he enjoys biking, playing piano, and programming. HIs favourite thing about CCH is the incredible school spirit.