And it took me less than 24 hours to do a follow-up to my first curling post of the Olympics, can you believe it? I have some other terms I will throw out there for you, but for starters there is a question I got that needs to be understood —
How is the curling I do different from what the Olympians do?
Well, in theory, it isn’t different. In practice, there are three ways where it is way different:
The Game Difference: It’s slower for us. Olympic teams are required to throw all ten of their ends in 74 minutes, which is just over a minute per rock (and that includes the 20-30 seconds it takes for the rock to actually reach the house). The whole of the game takes less than 2-1/2 hours to finish. We aren’t timed on our rocks, ever! Usually we are given a 2 hour block to play, and however many ends (usually 6 or 8) we get in is good to go. So they get nearly 10 ends in the time it takes us to get in 6 ends.
The Gamesmanship Difference: Competitiveness is way friendly. Curling and Golf can be compared similarly here. Most of the rules are based on it being a “friendly sport” – like it is customary and expected to shake hands before and after each match and to wish each other “Good Curling”. All the rest of the rules are on the honor system, where you call your own fouls, agree on the scoring between teams, and generally respect the other team to the point where an argument is as rare as a snowless winter in Alaska. That isn’t as obvious on TV, but its moreso where we play. Points matter, but games don’t. Most our leagues don’t keep records, and most the time winning and losing isn’t as important as having fun. So many times we are cheering each other on, socializing across teams, and skips even helping each out with calls.
The Big Difference: Olympians Drink Water – We Drink Beer — Seriously! At the local level, curling is done in curling clubs, like our’s the Anchorage Curling Club. Many of them, including ours, is complete with two sheets of ice and a fully stocked bar. Going to the club for me is just a few steps short of my days when I was a regular at a bar in Wisconsin. You meet up with your friends, hang out, drink beer, and … curl. This is party why the game is so friendly, because drinking makes a fun game funner. This is also why it takes longer for us to curl … because … well … beers run out and you need more.
If you are still reading this, I may catch one or two of you saying “man, that sounds like fun, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try”. I say to you … TRY IT! Curling has taken off the last few years that there are curling clubs all over the country, including warm weather states (Los Angeles has at least two clubs). If you are in the mid west, they are all over the place — Minnesota & Wisconsin especially. Every club will offer “Learn to Curl” sessions, either advertised and open to the public, or as part of party rentals.
Before I leave this, a couple terms I forgot to include for you in the last post.
There is a shot called “Raising” or a “Raise“. This is similar to a take-out but not quite. The situation for a raise begins when your team has a rock in front of the house in the way of a scoring position. Instead of getting rid of it, you hit that rock on the nose (similar to a nose hit) but light enough that you tap it back to that scoring position. When done right, the rock you threw ends up guarding the rock you raised back. It’s a tough shot because it requires precise hitting the front rock and a weight that will only send the raised rock back without taking it out of scoring position.
There was talk about the “7 Ender” the US Women’s team gave up to GBR. That simply means they gave up 7 points in one end. It’s also very bad for any level of curling. Giving up 7 points means the other team put every rock but one in the house and you couldn’t remove them or get your rock inside of theirs. To put it in perspective – I don’t play on good teams, and if we give up more than 2 its a bad end, four is a big problem, and five or more basically means you lost the game on one end. To get a 7 Ender, there is a balance between one team shooting lights out good, the other team shooting horribly, and set-ups that just allow rocks to get into the house without takeouts or guards. A 7 Ender is equivalent to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter in baseball or basketball player scoring more than 50 points – it can happen but its rare and you need to be great and the other team to be off. The 7 Ender the US Women gave up was the highest score any curling team scored in a single end in Olympic history. There is, of course, an 8 Ender, when a team scores all 8 rocks. If a 7 Ender is a no-hitter, an 8-Ender is a perfect game. Every 8 Ender on Televised curling for the last 15-20 years can be found on YouTube, and it really isn’t that many; and the USA Curling Magazine will publish your team’s name if you get an 8 Ender in club play (and I usually see 4 or 5 published every quarter), it’s that rare and that difficult.
Good Curling Everyone.