Curling across Alaska

04/18/2019
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A sport with roots that go back to the 16th century gained popularity again at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Together, the world watched athletes they (in some cases) had never heard of play a sport that they didn’t necessarily know the rules for and fell in love with curling. The sport captivated audiences and rose to popularity seemingly overnight.

The history of curling can be traced back to Scotland where it was first played on frozen ponds with heavy granite stones. The sport came to North America with Scottish immigrants who began opening curling clubs in their new homes. The “mother club” of curling, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in Scotland published the first official rules of the sport in 1838 and it first appeared in the Olympics in 1924.

So why did the world fall in love with curling in 2018? Perhaps because the sport is easy to follow and perhaps because it seems like something that even those of us sitting at home watching on the TV could learn. The game seemed easy enough to follow, which kept people cheering for their favorite teams and even wanting to try curling themselves.

A curling match has 10 ends in which four players on each team alternate throwing granite stones down the sheet (or ice) towards the house (the area with four circles on the other side of the sheet). It seems easy enough to launch the stone by pushing one foot off the starter block, but what you might not know is that each stone can weigh between 38 and 44 pounds!

Once all the stones have been thrown, the end is scored. Only one team can earn points in an end. The score is determined by which team has the stone closest to the bull’s-eye or button in the house. If a team has the closest stone, they will score a point. More points can be scored if more stones are near the button. For example, if a team has a stone on the button and a stone a few inches from the button and the other team’s nearest stone is a foot from the button, the first team will score two points.

One of the most exciting parts of the game is the sweeping. The reason for sweeping is to warm the ice and reduce friction which will affect how a stone moves across the ice. By sweeping faster or slower, teammates can help put a stone exactly where they want it.

Ready to get out and try it? You’re in luck! Live out all your curling fantasies in Alaska.

Learn to curl at the Anchorage Curling Club! Check the calendar for “Learn to Curl” events that are open to the public, no experience required! The Fairbanks Curling Club offers similar events. All the curling equipment will be provided so just bring yourself and a few friends to learn the history, rules and techniques of the sport. Practice your new knowledge and play a game with experienced instructors on-site to provide insider tips and tricks.

Happy curling!

Posted in: Alaska Activities