Curling: The Unknown Winter Sport at Winsor

By, Haley K. ’20 and Crystal Y. ’20

A couple of weeks ago, students may have noticed an email from Ms. Quackenbos referring to the existence of Winsor’s Curling Club, and then an even more mysterious follow-up about this so-called “Curling Club” being full! What even is curling? Why is it so popular? Believe it or not, this elusive sport, often overlooked in the Winter Olympics in favor of flashier events like figure skating and skeleton, also has a place among Winsor’s winter team rosters, right alongside Varsity Swimming, basketball, hockey, and Squash! However, curling admittedly does not seem to hold the appeal that the ice hockey team’s games do, and more often than not, students don’t know what the sport is in the first place. Our team spends their Tuesdays and Thursdays practicing at The Country Club in Brookline in preparation for the tournament at the end of the season, in which we play against teams from other schools including Brookline High School and Brimmer and May. Current curling team member Sadie Golen ’20 says, “It’s a lot of fun, and we hope more people will consider joining in future years!”


What exactly is curling?

Nicknamed “chess on ice,” this centuries-old sport is played on a long, narrow sheet of ice with a brightly-colored bullseye at each end. Two teams, each with four players, take turns throwing stones across the ice in an attempt to get as many stones as close to the button as possible. Each player throws two stones, but they all have their own specialized roles within the team. While it may seem easy to simply slide stones across ice, there is quite a bit of strategy and teamwork involved in order to rack up points.


Wait, so you guys actually sweep the ice?

Yep! The four players split into their designated roles when playing, and two players at a time are sweepers, using specialized brooms to sweep the ice. The sweeping helps to reduce friction underneath the stone and can cause it to slide faster or change direction. Sweeping takes place under the guidance of the skip, the player who stands at the other end of the ice and directs both where the stone is going to go and when the sweepers sweep. The remaining player throws the stone according to the skip’s instructions.


How do you even win?

Per end, only one team can score points—it’s all or nothing. That team is determined by which team throws the stone that is closest to the button. Each stone they have in the house is worth one point, and they continue to gain a point for each stone that is closer to the button than the other team’s stones. Then, the point accumulation stops, and however many stones they had is the total number of points for the end. However, sometimes it’s hard to tell which team’s stone is closer. In that case, an independent official comes over to measure each stone’s distance to the button using a special device that pivots around the center of the button.


While curling may not be a conventional sport, it’s still lots of fun, and we hope to have a good season this year!


The lingo:

Stone – the 44 pound granite rocks that we sweep and throw

House – the bullseye at the other end of the ice that we aim for.

Hack – similar to the starting blocks on a track – a grip on the ice to launch out of

Hog line – the line that marks the latest point at which you must release the stone

Hammer – the final stone thrown in the game, given to the team that won the coin toss or lost the previous end (see end)

Bonspiel – A curling bracket championship

End – one “inning” of a curling game – points are collected after 16 stones are thrown, signaling the end of an end

Button – the very center of the house; the landing spot of a “perfectly thrown” stone

Takeout – when the player throwing the stone is told to throw quickly and forcefully directly at another stone with the intention of removing it from play

Guard – a stone thrown lightly to block the line of the opposing team’s stone intended to take yours out

Pebble – a technique to reduce surface tension between the stone and the ice.  The ice is sprayed with a thin layer of droplets and then frozen

Sheet – the ice track that constitutes our playing field

Skip – the team captain who provides the strategy, target, and final stone throwing

HARD!! – what is yelled by the skip when the sweepers must sweep diligently to ensure proper line and/or speed of the stone is maintained