Curling Night in America: What You Can Learn from Watching Curling

Like most Americans, I was basically unaware of curling before the Olympics. I became completely engrossed in the competition in 2014 though, even going so far as to wake up at stupid o’clock in the morning to catch matches live. My enthusiasm built as the games went on and never waned. Afterwards, I found myself wanting more.

So there I was, watching lots of curling yet never having played. The more I watched, the more I wanted to play. I found Windy City Curling, attended a learn to curl session, and soon was playing regularly. I was definitely an armchair skip…I could call shots and strategy, but could barely slide out of the hack without falling over, let alone make a shot. I kept at it though, and now I find myself able to hold my own…Kevin Martin I am not, but at least I look like I know what I’m doing.

Watching curling led me to play in the first place, and I think it has helped me to become a better player as well. The top players have excellent form, and I find myself emulating their technique, even if subconsciously. When it comes to strategy, I find I’m better able to visualize shots, and know what is and isn’t possible, based on what I’ve seen in matches. Besides that, I’ve picked up on how easy and/or difficult certain shots may be…sometimes it’s easier to nail that double takeout than to draw around a guard to the button. Conversely, I find that I enjoy watching curling more after having played for awhile. Playing has given me a better understanding of the game as a whole, and on a situational level I think I have a better appreciation of what it really takes to make a particular shot.

philCOf course, the players I watch are light years ahead of my skill level. However, therein lie some of the best lessons I’ve learned from them…everybody misses shots, everybody makes mistakes, and nothing is certain. I’ve seen some of the best curlers in the world miss “easy” shots, skips make foolish calls, seemingly perfect shots pick and inexplicably fall off line, and so on. Given this, when I make a bad shot or mess up it keeps me grounded to know that the best in the world do the same thing at times, and I don’t feel as bad about it.

Of course, outside of the Olympics curling is rarely shown on American TV. Most of my viewing has been on the internet. That is set to change soon as NBCSN and Universal Sports Network are debuting “Curling Night In America” this week. Curling always draws huge ratings in the U.S. during the Olympics, and this presents a great opportunity for curling fans to show the powers that be that curling can be a ratings draw outside of the Olympics. So, if you’re a fan of curling be sure to tune in, watch, and record the series. Live viewing and recording will both help with ratings, so it’s important to do both if you are able to. Curling is a growing sport in this country, both for players and fans, and good ratings for this event will only help to get more curling on TV and more often, which in turn will only help to grow the sport more.

Here is the broadcast schedule for Curling Night In America from NBCSN:

January 23, 2015 – 10 PM Central
February 6, 2015 – 10 PM Central
February 13, 2015 – 11 PM Central
February 20, 2015 – 10 PM Central
February 27, 2015 – 10 PM Central
March 20, 2015 – 10 PM Central

Here is the schedule for Universal Sports Network:

January 22, 2015 – 1 PM Central
January 30, 2015 – 1 PM Central
February 6, 2015 – 3 PM Central
February 15, 2015 – 5 PM Central
February 27, 2015 – 5 PM Central
March 13, 2015 – 2 PM Central

Here is a link to a press release from USA Curling about Curling Night In America: http://www.teamusa.org/~/link.aspx?_id=1697D7FAF978489999B0BE85EDDCC38F&_z=z

philB

Phil Darin is new into curling, but is an experienced veteran when it comes to Loudmouth Pants.  Want to hear more about curling, beer and music? Is your name Eve Muirhead? Click on the button to follow Phil. .


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Interview with WLRA’s Shane Gustafson

Windy City Curling’s own Eric Reithel was recently interviewed on WLRA 88.1 FM, The Start!

Broadcasting live from Romeoville, Illinois, WLRA gives the students of Lewis University the chance to create and broadcast their own radio shows for all to hear. News Director, Shane Gustafson, sat down with Eric to record an interview all about our club, our sport, and how new players can get involved.

You can listen to the entire interview above.

The Struggles of Adolescence

“We’re just going to keep chipping away at this rock.”
“I feel like you’ve been saving that one for a while.”
“Maybe. But hey, if the shoe fits…”
“This is going in your blog now, isn’t it?”
“Maybe…”
-Eric Reithel and Matt Galas, on seemingly insurmountable challenges

I know plenty of curlers who, when asked by someone what the sport of curling is like to play, will answer, “It rocks.” (Yes, these people exist, and I love them. Don’t act like you’ve never made a terrible curling pun before.)

Similarly, there’s a bit of a running joke amongst my nerd-friends and I who love playing tabletop role-playing games (RPGs): we apply phrases from our game to real life situations. (i.e. – “I figured out how make the VCR stop flashing twelve: plus-five to ‘Cunning’.” “Who still has a VCR?” “I command you to Silence!”)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with RPGs: basically, each player creates a fictional character to portray that exists in a fictional fantasy or sci-fi world. They will then, with their friends, go on quests or missions; the entire time role-playing ‘in-character.’ To keep the game fair, all characters have Stat Sheets that outline to the players what each character is or isn’t capable of doing.

All new players start out at the same basic level, and have to assign points to their “stats.” For example, if you wish play a warrior, you might give extra points to your character’s “attack” or “defense” stats. If you want to play a rogue or a thief, you’d throw those points into the “Cunning,” “Agility,” or even “Lockpicking” stats, and so on and so forth. As the game progresses, players often achieve goals that “Level Up” their character (moving from Level 1 to Level 2, etc.), where more points are earned to be applied to these varying stats. The higher the level, the more points earned, and therefore the stronger the character.

I have friends who have started to hit the gym who view their weightlifting progress in these completely nerdy (and/or geeky) terms. “I started out only being able to bench 75 pounds. After Leveling Up a few times, I’m now benching 125.”

Within most RPG games, once higher levels are achieved and varying stats are increased, they can never be decreased until the character dies. That’s what makes the joke work.

As anyone who has ever objectively started a career, hobby, or passion knows: this is not the case in real life. If it were, adages like “two steps forward, one step back” wouldn’t exist because none of our learned skills would ever degrade over time without constant maintenance, practice, or care. And yet, there is something motivating and appropriately analogous to measuring life in terms of “Leveling Up.”

It breaks down the steps of progression into smaller, more attainable blocks. Using it allows someone to turn a seemingly-impossible goal into a slow progression of achievement. It celebrates the little victories along the way, while refusing to view minor setbacks as “total losses.” But where the analogy lacks is that, unlike in an RPG, real people don’t often start the same hobby at the same skill level, nor progress at the same rate.

Take curling, for example (which is apropos, given that this a blog for Windy City Curling). Everyone (more or less) starts out curling at a Learn2Curl, where they are taught how the game is played. But rather than getting to assign their own stat points to various skills and abilities within the sport, life has taken the summation of their existence so far and already done that for them. Some people begin with better “Balance” than others, while some come into the sport with a pretty solid “Sweeping” rating, others have a solid “Cunning” rating and pick up the “Strategy” better. The kicker is that the exact abilities of any given player are not definitively quantifiable, nor are they ever constant.

For the players that survive the tutorial into actually joining a club to continue on with Curling, more observations will be made to define in which stats we need more effort or focus. Some of us will realize we need to work on our “Posture,” others “Weight Control,” and others… well, any number of other stats you can think of. And as we improve and consistently work on our abilities, we will see progress.

But, as I said, just because a stat or ability increases, it isn’t automatically retained for life. In fact, it’s a constant struggle to even ourselves out across the board. When one goes up, another might dip down. As we focus on “Weight Control,” we may actually focus on this so much that we neglect our “Line of Delivery,” which may suffer. That’s normal.

Luckily for most of us, these stats never go down so much that they’ll completely wither away into oblivion. Sure, we may have a moment’s worry of, “I never used to struggle with my line until I changed how I come out of the hack when I was focusing on my weight…” but this is often followed with, “So how do I fix my line with my new delivery technique WHILE still retaining weight control?”  As we progress forward in search of an answer to this question, eventually a connection is made, our game improves, and we “Level Up.”

But that’s the technical side of the game.

I’ve done a lot of reading on the sport of Curling. (More than I care to admit, I say with humor.) And yet, in all of my research and asking around, I noticed a trend: everything put into print about this incredible sport of ours – with rare exception – fell primarily into two categories: 1.) Literature on the “Curling Greats” who changed the face of the game with performances at a pinnacle of the sport in whatever point in time they played, or 2.) Knowledge and advice for people who were ABSOLUTE newbies to the sport (aka – this).

There’s a third category that is, in my humble opinion, sorely lacking: 3.) Moving past the ‘Newbie Gains’ into the realm of ‘Mid-Gainer’ (if I may steal a few terms from weightlifting – which, no, I do not do).

Allow me to explain in RPG analogy: All Curlers begin somewhere in the Level 1-5 range of overall skill. The game is new and exciting. There’s a whole world of possibilities just waiting to be explored. As the beginners get the absolute basics of the sport down pat, their natural talent allows them to quickly “Level Up” into the Level 6-10 range as being able to consistently make simple draws, guards, and hits settle into the body. Before long, they’re in Levels 11-14 as they understand the concepts of why Skips are picking their shots. They’re getting a natural sense of when they need to sweep or not sweep – without even needing to hear the call.

But then something happens.

All the while they’ve been flying up through the ranks, having fun, and getting better, they’ve also been talking to players who’ve been around for a few years, or watching international curling matches streamed on YouTube, or whatever the case may be. And then, right around Level 15, a revelation: they understand the scope of the complex skill and intricacy that exists in this sport. Something ‘clicks’ and they can intellectually ‘see’ the level of finesse required. Not only that, they realize they have the potential to achieve that skill and finesse. They may only be a Level 15, but the distance from where they are to where they want to be seems much more quantifiable – even if that endgame is Level 100.

Then, another revelation: “I have no idea how to get myself there.”  And right there is where a wall exists. (At least, there is for me.)

As a player, I’ve recently realized that while my Natural Talent has carried me this far, this is as far as that train goes. I’m at the end of that line; dropped off at a junction where my next options are either, 1.) happily staying place in Casual Curler City, 2.) getting frustrated, giving up, and taking a return trip back to Normal Life on the Quitters Express, or 3.) progressing forward to who-knows-what on the slow-moving Hard Work Highway.

Where skills and levels were once gained quickly, suddenly the gap between Level 15 and Level 16 seems more like a pole vault instead of a hop, a skip, or a jump.

Not only that, but here’s where I have found further frustration and discouragement: When I was a Level 1 watching the Olympians, I just tended to view what they could do as something on a higher plane of existence far beyond anything I could ever achieve. There was no way I could quantify their skills because I lacked the vocabulary and experience to do so. Now that I feel I’m sitting around Level 15, I have enough knowledge in my head to know that those elites aren’t on a higher plane; they’re traveling around in the exact same world I am. They’ve just been doing it so much longer, and traveled far and wide on countless quests and missions, that their stats and abilities place them at that 100th Level. And what once was a great big world of possibility for me now seems like an overwhelmingly large landscape too vast and wide to ever fully explore or visit.

I mean, if the experience gap between Level 15 and Level 16 is a pole vault, the gap between Level 15 and Level 100 feels like the Grand Canyon. You can see the other side, which is where you want to be, but how do you build a bridge over the Grand Canyon? When viewed with this perspective, to say, “It’s humbling,” is putting it mildly.

And yet – for as small as I feel – I feel as equally (if not, more) encouraged to keep going. How? Because those Level 100’s that I once thought played this sport on a higher plane I realize now throw stones in same world I do. Sure, I may not know any of them personally, but I do know quite a number of other higher-level players solidly sitting anywhere from Level 30 to Level 70. And those folks have been there for me this entire time, always offering their advice, their wisdom and their encouragement. I trust that wisdom because they all had to get there the same way I will: Hard Work, Practice, and Dedication. And let’s be honest: these things are really easy to put in when your passion for something is strong.

Not only that, I get to play with some incredible fellow curlers who are in the same place as I; Comrades-in-Brooms to share in the adventure who inspire me as I watch their progress and improvement week-after-week.  Yes, getting to where I want to be may seem like a Grand Canyon’s width away – but at least I can now see the other side. Where there once was a false self-imposed planar separation, there now exists only a distance I feel I can progressively reach. Sure, I don’t know how to build that bridge yet, but I know enough things now to feel like I – or any one of us – can.

And who knows? Perhaps one day one of us, too, will be over there with those elites. Until that day, I’m going to keep practicing – building my bridge one piece/one Level at a time. And as I figure things out, put two-and-two together, or even have a new suggestion to try, I’ll jot it all down in this blog – from one beginner to another.

Why?

Because I have only found one author so far who, like me, has made an attempt to fill this vacant information gap: Gabrielle Coleman. Having written two incredible books, Break Through Beginner Curling and Introduction to Curling Strategy, Gabrielle has done a fantastic job of taking her personal experiences and converting them into as much practical curling knowledge for the Beginner-Shooting-to-Become-an-Intermediate as anything I’ve ever read. I highly recommend them.

And yet, despite what has clearly been an exhaustive and impressive effort on her part, with the rate that the sport of Curling is growing (especially here in the United States), it’s not enough. There are too many of us at this stage in our game, and we all learn in too many different ways for just these two books to be a catch-all solution. For the number of experienced Level 30+ players out there in the Curling World, how multiple plans-of-attack designed to help Teen-Leveled players move into the Level 20’s don’t already exist is surprising to me.

So I’m offering a challenge to anyone out there reading this blog who may be higher up in their game than I: Help us.

I hear all the time that Curling is growing. The Olympics are driving the number of participants of this sport through the roof. New clubs (be they paper, arena, or dedicated) are popping up all over the place. The USCA is implementing a High Performance Training Program to hunt down players with potential and then hopefully hone their skills enough to make them the next wave of Level 100’s by the time the South Korea Winter Games roll around. Everyone wants to keep this snowball rolling and growing. All of this is fantastic!

But now that you have us first- and second-year curlers hooked on your awesome sport, we need more than baseline introductory guides and details on the “greats” we hope to possibly one day be. Heck, even if our goal is simply to enjoy League Night and not be the weak link on the team, there’s no means out there for us to find that will help guide us to that end.

So to you Level 30-and-Above players out there, we need you to remember the struggles you faced back in your past – technical, strategical, emotional… it doesn’t matter what – and we need you to articulate how you moved past them. Then share that with us in a guiding and advisory way. You were us once. You knew as little then as we do now. The difference? You acquired wisdom. Sure, you may not have all of the answers (Lord knows I sure don’t), but I’m willing to bet that you have enough to help. I would love to know what those answers are, and something tells me I’m not the only one.

-Eric 🙂

(Eric Reithel is a resident blogger for Windy City Curling who, because he is a teenager in Curling Skill Level and maturity, prints out inspirational quotes and song lyrics that he hangs on his wall at work for motivation – much to the chagrin of his employer. You can ask him what they are, or anything else for that matter, on Twitter at @TheCraftyCurler.)

Keep It Moving

“I feel the need… The need for speed!”
-Maverick & Goose, Top Gun

One of the things that makes the sport of Curling so unique is the etiquette. Curling – for better or worse – is known traditionally as “Gentleman’s Game.” This is not because it should only be played by men, but rather, this expression (as it is used in the modern day) is metaphorically used to imply that the players of the game, both men and women, all abide by a Code of Ethics. Any good curler knows that this is a sport of delicacy and finesse. We are not ruffians mixing it up on a pitch. We value honor, integrity, and sportsmanship.

Yes, we take our sport very seriously and do our very best to perform at the peak of our present abilities every time we step out on to the ice, but never so seriously that we cannot laugh, smile, and enjoy the sport as we play it. We almost have to: there are no referees to call our fouls or mistakes. If everyone playing the sport suddenly lost control of his or her emotions every time a bad shot was made, or we thought another team’s sweeper touched the stone, or had a disagreement over which stone is closer to the button than another, games would result in brawls and bruises instead of beers and brother- or sister-hood.

But you already knew that. And this blog isn’t about that aspect of good sportsmanship. I’m writing this blog to go a little more in depth into the more technical aspects of etiquette. The reason being that in the last two weeks Windy City Curling has sent four teams to two different bonspiels. (And it’s looking like we’ll be sending a few more to another in December.)  That. is. Awesome!

And yet, if teams are going to go out into the fray and start competing against clubs in spiels, those need to know that they represent Windy City Curling in all aspects: not just in whether they win or lose.

Being in a club that does not currently own a dedicated facility, Windy City Curling’s access to ice time is limited to two-ish hours once a week. That’s it. Two hours to complete a full eight-end game. Ice time is a valuable, limited, and precious resource. Therefore, keeping the pace of the game moving is of the utmost importance.

The last blog I posted, The House Rules, was posted as a standalone resource. And most of the items on that list are rather self-explanatory. But a lot of the rules posted there can easily fall under one big blanket rule: Keep the game moving. Going further in-depth with those rules is what this blog is all about.

Note: I am NOT calling for a break-neck pace that makes the game feel “rushed.” Being a sport rooted in strategy and fine-tuned precision, rushing only leads to mistakes and all-around unhappiness. Instead, I am offering tips and tricks to cut out things that consume extra time needlessly so that more time can be spent where it is needed: in strategy and focusing on making finely-tuned shots.

I’m All About that Pace, ‘Bout that Pace, ‘Bout that Pace – no Stumble

While the list of etiquette is not exhaustive nor even “official” by any rulebook, it was compiled to be a basic guide from various sources including: this signage in the Fort Wayne Curling Club, opinions solicited on Reddit, other club websites, and a lot of back-and-forth emails from the higher-ups in the club. I repeat some of the rules here, with further examples and explanations as to why in (parenthetical asides written in Italics).

For the Non-Delivering Team:

  1. Sweepers should remain still, off to the side, and between the hoglines. (This allows the current shooter and sweepers to see their Skip’s call. A lot of times, sweepers on the non-delivering team don’t realize they’re blocking the view of the current shooter, or sometimes they back up so much they end up on the neighboring sheet, doing the exact same thing. It’s important to be mindful of one’s surroundings when “waiting in the wings.”)
  2. Once the opposing team has delivered their stone out of the hack, the next player on-deck to shoot should ready their stone in front of the hack and clean it. If need be, this is also the time to put a slip-on slider over your shoe. (This simple act alone is what saves so much time during games. You are allowed to do this once they leave the hack, even if their stone is still in motion. Just try to do so in a manner that isn’t distracting. Depending on the shooter, they may not have gotten that far out of the hack. That doesn’t mean they aren’t watching their line and helping their shot.)
  3. The Skip and/or Vice should be waiting behind the back line of the house to give the current Skip peace and space to focus on their game. (You are allowed to move into the house to sweep once their stone is on its way. Prior to this, though, any discussion should be kept to a non-distracting volume. I get it – you want to talk about the possibilities that may arise, but remember that while you’re talking about your next potential shot, the current Skip is trying to focus on their current here-and-now shot.)
  4. Any player on a non-delivering team should be standing with their brooms parallel to the ice, especially anyone behind the house at the playing end. (This eliminates giving a false or distracting target to the current shooter. There’s nothing more confusing than looking down to see your Skip’s broom, only to see three brooms on the ice instead. If you’re not calling a shot, hold your broom up off the ice and as parallel to the ground as comfortably possible.)
  5. Any talking while the other team has the ice should be kept to a non-distracting volume. (This does not mean “Shut up,” “Be quiet,” or “No talking.” Curling is a social sport – we get that. Just keep it down out of respect to the current team. Remember that when you’re on the ice, the game comes first. Broomstacking is where the real socializing comes in.)

For the Delivering Team:

  1. Be ready to deliver your stone once your team has the ice. (If you’ve prepared your stone once the hack is vacated from the previous shooter, this should be easy.)
  2. Sweepers should be alert, paying attention, and ready to sweep when needed. (While every team is different, a part of being ready to sweep is moving in from between the hoglines and down towards your shooter once your team has the ice. Waiting halfway down the sheet for your teammate’s shot to come to you is nowhere near close enough: You never know how soon your Skip is going to call you on.)
  3. Every member of the team should actively help the current shot. (Shooters should be watching their line and for the break in the curl, sweepers should be observing and calling down the stone’s weight, and skips should be reading the ice and ready to command the sweeping, if needed. Only by playing and communicating as a team will anyone improve.)
  4. Leads and Seconds can greatly help the pace of the game by readying the stone for their Skips and Vices (especially if they are currently engaged in a strategic discussion). (And if you see a teammate struggling to get ready, feel free to lend a friendly hand, too. Those slip-on sliders can be tricky, you know!)
  5. Move to the sides of the sheet as soon as your shot comes to a rest to yield the ice to the other team. (I’ve seen so many instances where a shot finishes, and all four members of that team suddenly stand in front of the house to look at what they’ve just done. While it’s nice a team is communicating, stopping the progression of the game for what would be 64 stones suddenly turns a two-hour game into a three-hour game. As hard as it may be for some new players to understand, sometimes you just have to make the shot and move on. Leave it up to the Skip to figure out what your last shot means for the team/game. Besides, when you’re at a timed competition, yielding the ice is what stops your clock and you’re aren’t given that much to begin with.)

When an End is Finished:

  1. Only the Thirds shall determine the score. All other players should remain out of the house until this is done. (There is no need for more than two people to agree on a score. Anymore than that, and things get cluttered, which slows the game down.)
  2. The scoring Skip that is to start the next End should immediately head to the playing end of the sheet to call their first shot, instead of helping clear stones. (I know it seems unfair that he or she doesn’t have to help clean up the mess everyone just made, but readying up for the next end is also a huge time saver in the long-run.)
  3. The Lead to deliver the first stone of the next End should get their slider on (or gripper off) and ready their first stone in front of the hack while the other players clear away stones. (Same as above. Anyone that does any act to move the game along is only helping everyone out.)

I know that a lot of this may seem like old-school strictness, but there are some things about Curling traditions that are still very much applicable today. You would be amazed at how many games I’ve seen drag on longer than necessary simply because there were frequent moments of lag waiting for any of the above things to happen.

Speaking from experience on a few of these points:

As a Skip, I always sincerely appreciate it whenever a Lead or a Second has my stone cleaned off and ready for me. If I could strategize and ready my stone simultaneously, it would be amazing. But alas, those two objectives must happen roughly 140 feet away from each other, rendering such an act impossible. I always try to thank my team for doing this for me every chance I can because, after a focused discussion on strategy to come up with the ideal shot, being able to just head down and drop straight into the hack to deliver my stone helps me stay in-the-moment.

No one ever likes feeling like they’re holding things up. For this reason I’m going to add further stress and emphasis to the point of helping each other out when it comes to readying stones. Most of our club is composed of new players. Many of these new players don’t own their own curling shoes yet. Accordingly, many players have to use the slip-on sliders.

Donning a Slip-On Slider: An Awkward Interpretive Dance

If you know your video game history, I equate slip-on sliders to the first weapon the hero is given at the beginning of The Legend of Zelda (yeah, the first one released for the old Nintendo all the way back in the mid-1980’s.).  It was dangerous to go alone, so the hero took a sword made of wood. Sure, it did an adequate job getting the player off and running quickly and was a trusty sidearm at the start of a big adventure, but it was no Master Sword (like having your own pair of Curling shoes can be). It had its limitations. So too, do the slip-on sliders.

Try putting one of those things on securely. It’s not easy, is it?

I’ve seen so many players try and do that one-footed balancing act/dance ON ICE in an effort to don one that I think our video man, Dan, should record all of us trying to do this and edit the footage together into a music video set to the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker. (You’re imagining the hilarity now, aren’t you? You’re welcome.)

And if they can’t stand on one foot to do it, I’ve often seen players sit on the ice to get their slider on, which cannot be warm by the sixteenth attempt to do so in an eight-end game. Failing that, they just drop it down and treat it like a step on slider (which has its own follies I won’t even get into).

My point: Many new players are at the mercy of these slip-on sliders, and they often take more time to get ready than a stone. Therefore, teammates should be there to help. You can do this by either readying the next stone for a teammate getting their slider on, or offering an arm for balance for our one-footed dancer friends who don’t want to sit down on the ice and put a slip-on slider, well, on.

A Humble Suggestion:

One of the things that I’ve observed curling at the Notre Dame Curling Club was that each team would use it’s own slider for the duration of the match. This really helped moved the pace of the game along.

I know it’s a tradition at Windy City Curling to leave a loaner slider at each end of the sheet for the game, but think about it: That’s an entire End that a slider is just sitting there not being used.

If each team had its own slider for the match (as in, have two sliders on the same end of the sheet simultaneously), as the current player is sliding out to deliver their stone, the next shooter from the other team can get their rock ready and then put on their slider while the current shooter is still wearing one. Since the next player to go already has a slider, you either hold on to the one you just used (if you have another stone to throw) or pass it off to your next teammate up to shoot while you both wait on the sidelines.

It was amazing to me how such a simple thing could help save so much time.

I realize the common pitfall to this is forgetting a slider at one end of the sheet as everyone moves to the opposite for the next End, but after seeing how quickly some of you Windy City players can shoot a slider across the length of the rink with your broom hockey-style, this “delay in game” will be fixed much quicker than our current system.

Which would you rather have?  1.) Having a Skip send a slider across the rink so each team has one within a second or two? or 2.) leaving the slider there and then watch a player deliver a stone, wait for their shot to stop, then stand up, take the slider off, pass it to the very next shooter on the other team, and then wait for the current shooter to put the slider on…for every…single…stone…

Make no mistake: this blog is NOT specifically calling any player out as being slow or a drag on the game. I see the energy and the enthusiasm every single one of you bring to the ice each week. After getting to know many of you incredibly well enough to call friend, I know for a fact that no one at Windy City is intentionally slowing the game down. (If anything, I slow the game down more as a Skip with my strategy talks – which is something I promise I’m working on.) But, you all know how late our nights presently last due to the time slot we have on the ice.

So rather, this blog is calling out the current system we have in place to hopefully better the Windy City Curling experience for everyone there, while also encouraging everyone to focus on upping the pace of their game. Not only will practicing this at our home club make Thursday nights more enjoyable (and not go as late), it’ll also be proper preparation for if/when anyone decides to jump into a bonspiel and get out there in the awesome and fun competitive world.

I mean, it’s not like doing any of this will cut into our all-important broomstacking time… (That’s why we rock that out first.)

-Eric 🙂

(Eric Reithel is a resident blogger for Windy City Curling. He also loves using terrible pop culture references, horrible puns, and awkward visuals to help make his point. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)

The House Rules

Proper Etiquette at Windy City Curling

All games should start with a handshake and a “Good Curling!” between every player.

All shoes, brooms, and other equipment should be clean of debris before stepping onto the ice to keep the sheet as pristine as possible. Street shoes worn outside should not be used for curling.

The team to begin with Hammer advantage is determined by a coin toss between thirds.

Be safe on the ice:

  1. Do not chase after a rock moving too fast for you.
  2. Never sweep while moving backwards.
  3. If a rock is moving towards someone with their back to it, warn them.
  4. Should you start to fall, try to tuck your chin to your chest to protect your head.

Play with a good sportsmanlike attitude.

Commend all players on a good shot.

You are allowed to be happy about a good shot, but don’t overdo it. Be humble.

You are allowed to be unhappy about a bad shot, but keep it together. Be civil.

If possible, try to lift your hands and knees up from the ice after a delivery slide to prevent your body heat from degrading the pebble or leaving an imprint.

For the Non-Delivering Team:

  1. Sweepers should remain still, off to the side, and between the hoglines.
  2. Once the opposing team has delivered their stone out of the hack, the next player on-deck to shoot should ready their stone in front of the hack and clean it. If need be, this is also the time to put a slip-on slider over your shoe.
  3. The Skip and/or Vice should be waiting behind the back line of the house to give the current Skip peace and space to focus on their game.
  4. Any player on a non-delivering team should be standing with their brooms parallel to the ice, especially anyone behind the house at the playing end.
  5. Any talking while the other team has the ice should be kept to a non-distracting volume.

For the Delivering Team:

  1. Be ready to deliver your stone once your team has the ice.
  2. Sweepers should be alert, paying attention, and ready to sweep when needed.
  3. Every member of the team should actively help the current shot.
  4. Leads and Seconds can greatly help the pace of the game by readying the stone for their Skips and Vices (especially if they are currently engaged in a strategic discussion).
  5. Move to the sides of the sheet as soon as your shot comes to a rest to yield the ice to the other team.

Be mindful of your movement within eyesight of someone delivering a stone, and don’t deliberately distract an opponent.

Be mindful of games on other sheets:

  1. Be respectful of both teams when exchanging dialogue with players from other games.
  2. If you see a player on the sheet next to you already in the hack, wait to deliver your stone until they have done so.
  3. Try to be aware of moving stones on adjacent sheets. Be alert for any stray stones that may come your way.

Protect our granite! Stop moving stones from hitting a hack, striking the scoreboard, bumping the back wall, or soaring into another sheet. If possible, try to anticipate a big weight delivery or a hit that may send them that direction.

Remember to be safe on the ice. (See bullet-points above.)

When an End is Finished:

  1. Only the Thirds shall determine the score. All other players should remain out of the house until this is done.
  2. The scoring Skip that is to start the next End should immediately head to the playing end of the sheet to call their first shot, instead of helping clear stones.
  3. The Lead to deliver the first stone of the next End should get their slider on (or gripper off) and ready their first stone in front of the hack while the other players clear away stones.

If it impossible for a team to win or tie, it is customary for the trailing Skip to concede the match by offering a handshake to the leading Skip. Don’t drag out a competition longer than necessary.

Conclude all matches the same way they began: with a handshake and a “Good Curling!” between every player.

During Open Curling and League Nights, ice time can be used for practice after a game, if desired. During a bonspiel however, the ice should be vacated as soon as possible to allow the ice-makers ample time to pebble and nip the sheet in anticipation of the next draw.

Did we mention to be safe on the ice? 🙂

Have fun!