Curling: Play it Safe and Play for Life
An important note to our readers: Dr. Goldline is not a real doctor, in any way, shape or form; the moniker is used purely for entertainment value. In addition, the views expressed are entirely those of the author and not of management or any other curler. As the saying goes, “Put 3 lawyers/mathematicians/scientists (or curlers!) in a room and ask them the same question, and you’ll get 3 different answers”.
Dear Dr Goldline: After watching curling on TV for many years, I finally took up the sport myself this season. I am having so much fun but I am a little bit worried about hurting myself out on the ice. Any suggestions?
Dear New Curler: I am so happy to hear that you have discovered Canada’s favourite sport! Now, nothing can ruin the fun of the game like sustaining an injury. Here are my top four tips for playing it safe:
1) Other than when you are delivering your stones, keep your anti-slider (that’s the pull on gripper that covers the slider on your shoe) on at all times. Clearly the anti-slider protects the Teflon slider on your shoe, but it is also protecting you! On ice, Teflon is slippery; anti-sliders are not. I know that many of you have likely seen curlers out on the ice who actually slide along the ice as they sweep a rock, and certainly most of the elite curlers don’t wear anti-sliders when they sweep. Well, that’s fine and dandy for them – feel free to do what you want when you’re a Brier or Olympic contender. But when you are starting out, I strongly….let me repeat that... STRONGLY….recommend that you wear an anti-slider when sweeping. If you momentarily lose focus, it is easy to forget that you’ve got slippery Teflon under your foot and that can lead to a fall. And wearing an anti-slider when sweeping allows you to easily sweep on either side of the rock (which is a real bonus when your sweeping partner is one who slides when sweeping).
2) If the rock’s going too fast, don’t sweep it! Sweeping is an important element of the game and when you are starting out, it is quite likely you are going to be sweeping six rocks while only throwing two rocks. But there are going to be shots where the rock is travelling at high speed. If you are trying to keep up with a rock that is hurtling down the ice and you start to feel unsafe, step back and stop sweeping. (You can buy the skip a drink afterwards as a form of apology for momentarily not doing your job).
3) Make sure to regularly look up and towards the house in front of you while sweeping. I sometimes see people who stare intently down at the ice as they sweep. You need to look up regularly to see if there are any obstacles in your path. What if there is a rock that just made it over the hog line? If you forget about that high guard, you risk tripping over it. And there are likely far more rocks that pose potential hazards as you get closer to the rings.
4) Always pay attention to what is going on around you. Yes, curling is a social sport and it’s likely you’ll get caught up chatting with your team mates during the game. But keep an eye open at all times. Especially when there are inexperienced curlers out on the ice, there is no certainty where rocks being delivered are going to end up, both on your sheet and the ones next to you.
Curling is fun…..but always play safe.