Op-Ed: What It’s Like to Join Curling

Michael Young ’23 (right) sweeps with Marco DeMelo ’23 during practice. Photo by Amanda Frank.

The physical activity requirement for Upper School students is participation in two team sports, or one team sport and two activities.

This winter season, I decided to try something new and joined the curling team.

Curling might look easy while watching the Olympics, however—speaking from experience—it is not.

Learning the curling lunge and slide is hard. It requires patience and resilience on the ice, even after you slip and fall.

Using a stabilizer is a helpful tool when coming out of the hack, where each curler starts their throw.

Olympic curlers often slide with a broom, a difficult task for a beginner. Stabilizers help new curlers develop confidence on the ice.

While releasing the stone appears simple, the logic behind it is complex. If a stone is released with too much spin or force, it will not reach the intended target. The same is true is the stone is thrown too lightly or with not enough curl.

There are four positions on a team: lead, second, vice, and skip.

The lead throws the first two stones, the second throws the third and fourth stones, and they both sweep for their teammates.

The vice throws the fifth and sixth stones, as well as helping their skip determine the last two throws.

The skip is in charge of calling the lead, second, and vice’s shots and telling them when to sweep. The skip throws the last two stones, often the deciding factor in each end.

Sweeping is important because it reduces the curl on the stone and decreases friction on the ice, elongating the stone’s trajectory.

The winner of each end has the stone closest to the center of the house, called the button. If they have more than one stone closer to the button than the opposing team’s closest stone, the winning team gets additional points.

At the beginning of a match, a coin toss determines which team gets hammer—a term that refers to who throws the last stone in an end.

This is often an advantage because the last stone thrown can take out the opposing team’s stones, changing the outcome of an end.

The losing team in each end gets hammer for the following end, where they have a chance at a comeback.

The game can be unpredictable with extremely close scores and massive turnarounds.

Curling is unique due to the pace of the game. Unlike basketball or soccer, curling feels less hectic allowing more time to strategize.

I am likely to be apart of the curling team in future years because I perform better when I have more time to think.

For a newcomer, this is a lot to take in, but I have found curling to be enjoyable. I am happy that I joined the team this year and encourage people to come cheer our teams on at the Brookline Country Club.

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