Curling the Stone
Brian Luedtke
Curling, which is thought to have originated in Scotland over 500 years ago, has finally worked its way into the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point intramural block 3 for 2012.

In curling, two teams of four meet at a curling sheet where they play eight ends. The curling sheet is generally about 150 feet long and approximately 15 feet wide.

Players slide, or "curl," a "stone" down the ice with the objective of having several stones closer to the center of a ring, called the "house," than their opponent. The house is a series of four and eight rings 12 feet in diameter around a center point.

Each stone closer than the closest opponent’s stone to the center is worth one point. Teams alternate curling stones down the sheet until each player has curled two stones, totaling 16. The final stone thrown is known as the "hammer" and is usually
​A curler pushes off his stone towards the rings.
Photos by Jack McLaughlin.
 what teams base their strategy on to defend or attack. Each
set of 16 curled stones is called an end.

There are four positions which work together, hopefully like a well oiled machine.

"Everybody has a key role at all times," said Paul Doruska, Stevens Point Curling Club board member and Associate Professor of Forest Measurements at UWSP.

The first position, the "lead," delivers the first stone towards the house at a desired velocity or "weight." The second and third positions, which are called "second" and "third," use brooms to help control the stone’s trajectory and weight. The fourth position, called the "skip," sits behind the house and directs where the lead, second and third should place the stone. Depending upon what the skip says, sweepers can add 10-15 feet to a curl and bend the stone’s trajectory up to three feet.

While the "lead" player slides, his teammates brush the ice to control
the trajectory and weight of the stone.
"You’ve got to be aimed correctly with the right weight … if it’s going too fast there’s not much you can do with it, but if it’s going too slow … recognize it because you can adjust how hard you sweep to fix the shot in the middle of it," Doruska said.

All positions rotate so everyone can curl. The third and skip need to be the most well rounded players since they will curl into a group of stones located near the house.

There are three main shots: guards, draws and takeouts. A guard does exactly that, guard a well-placed stone or make an opponent’s shot more difficult. Draws are thrown to directly land in the house. Takeouts are used to remove or displace an opponent’s stone.

"It is a gentle person’s sport in that there are etiquette and rules that you have to follow, but it’s self-patrolled – you have to call your own fouls," Doruska said. "Before each game starts everybody shakes hands and says, ‘good curling.’" The same routine is done afterwards, as well.

However, curling is more than a game; it is also a social gathering. After a game, "Eighty people sit around and talk about who knows what for an hour or so afterward," Doruska said.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that even during games players of opposite teams complement each others’ plays. Even a step further, each club hosts two to three "bonspiels." per year. Bonspiels are open, weekend long tournaments held in a round robin fashion. Clubs are expected to attend several of these bonspiels every year.

Curling as well as many other intramurals offer physical activity, social interaction and mentally stimulating activity which can help reduce stress and improve overall quality of life. Why not check one out for yourself?