Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog

Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

The Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to sports and sports fitness, general fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, weight loss, and human health. Here, you'll find everything from nutritional information and advice about healthy eating to training and exercise tips for improving your overall well-being.

Previous in Blog: Flying on Skis   Next in Blog: The Science of Curling (Part 2)
Close
Close
Close
10 comments

The Science of Curling (Part 1)

Posted February 25, 2010 11:43 AM by Steve Melito

Curling is an Olympic sport in which two teams of four players slide heavy granite stones along a length of ice calling a curling sheet towards a painted, circular target called the house. The house, which resembles a bullseye, has a center called the button. Points are awarded to the team whose stones rest closest to the buttons of the houses at each end of the ice. In curling, a round of play (an "end") is complete when the curlers on both teams have played ("thrown") all of their stones.

Throwing a curling stone requires a player to wear special shoes and demonstrate both considerable balance and leg strength. The thrower's gripper shoe, which has a non-slippery sole, is positioned in a hack, a metal or wooden plate from which the curler can push-off. The curler's other shoe, which has a slippery surface, helps the player to slide forward while the forward knee is bent and the rear leg is extended behind the body.

The thrower maintains control of the stone by gripping its handle, but must release the rock before reaching a painted boundary called the hog line. Before releasing the stone, however, the thrower imparts a slight clockwise or counter-clockwise turn. Players with special curling brooms then help guide the rock by sweeping the ice and accompanying it as it slides forward. Strategy, teamwork – and, yes, science – are all part of a curling team's success.

Meet Dion Warr

Last week, CR4's Steve Melito (Moose) interviewed Dion Warr, Vice President of the Schenectady (N.Y.) Curling Club, about the science behind this Olympic sport. "It's a tough game," Warr explained. "I would compare it to golf. You may pick it up and love it without ever being very good at it." Upstate New York's love of the game trumps the sport's difficulty, however, especially if the recent success of the Schenectady Curling Club's Open House is any guide.

The granite curling stones that Warr uses are rounded and weigh 42 pounds. They have a relatively small running surface, however, so only a small part of the curling stone comes in contact with the ice. According to Warr, the bottom of a stone measures just 4 inches in diameter and is 1/2-inch wide. This small surface area "means more fun", but it also requires "more finesse" - especially when curlers sweep the ice.

Unlike the ice used in figure skating and hockey, a curling sheet isn't smooth. Rather, curling ice is prepared by depositing droplets of water in a process called "pebble". As Warr explains, a person equipped with "what looks like a backpack full of water with a showerhead upside down" serves as a type of anti-Zamboni, creating a bumpy surface on the ice. Riding along these ridges, a curling stone with a small surface area can be moved with relatively minimal effort. "Otherwise, the friction would be so great you couldn't get it down the ice".

Editor's Note: Click here for Part 2 of this two-part series.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Piping Design Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Richland, WA, USA
Posts: 20962
Good Answers: 780
#1

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 2:01 AM

As luck would have it, last Friday when my wife and I went out for a pitcher of porter and some appetizers, the Canadian and Danish womens' curling teams were on TV. We really got into this--sort of a combination of bowling, shuffleboard, and billiards on ice and in grand scale. I hope Part 2 explains some of the dynamics. Vigorous sooping deflects the stone toward the wetter ice?? Spin on launch = curve ball? In any event, there is quite a bit of strategy. Thanks for the exposition; looking forward to more.

__________________
In vino veritas; in cervisia carmen; in aqua E. coli.
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 18
Good Answers: 1
#3
In reply to #1

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 11:29 AM

The stone curves because of its rotation and the difference in friction it cause. For exemple, if the stone is rotating clock wise, the surface of the stone in contact with the ice on the left side of the stone is moving faster than the one on the right side relatively to the ice surface, creating more friction on the left side. So, the stone will have a tendency to move in the direction with less friction, making it curve to the right.

Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Calgary AB
Posts: 21
Good Answers: 2
#2

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 11:20 AM

Curling Rocks!

Not sure who first said it, but Curling is Chess on ice.

We (my wife and kids) spent last Friday morning at the Women's Olympic Curling event in Vancouver, not 500m from where she and I learned to curl (Vancouver curling club) in 1999. The level of skill that these competitors have make it look so easy, but a draw to the button to take shot rock is just about the most satisfying thing you can do.

For the kids (3 to 9) it was a bit like watching paint dry. But it is just an amazing game to learn and to play.

Of course in Canada this a studied matter, http://www.icing.org/game/science/index.htm

The root link has all the rules: http://www.icing.org

I remember walking into the rink for our first lesson, and seeing a dozen kegs of beer along the wall keeping chilled, thinking that this is a sport for me!

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3464
Good Answers: 32
#4

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 11:44 AM

Thanks for the comments! Part 2 is now live.

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#5
In reply to #4

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 12:13 PM

Part two doesn't cover much of the deeper strategy and physics. I presume there will be a part 3?

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3464
Good Answers: 32
#6
In reply to #5

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 12:22 PM

Unfortunately, there won't be a Part 3 to this story. But if you'd like to share what you've learned about the deeper strategy and physics of curling, I think you'll find that you have a ready audience here. I've been surprised by the level of interest in curling, but it's a sport I've only learned about recently.

Hope you'll come back and register with CR4, too.

Moose

Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Calgary AB
Posts: 21
Good Answers: 2
#7
In reply to #5

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/26/2010 1:16 PM

The first link I posted covers the physics of what causes the curl of the stone. The running surface on the base is concave, so the actual contact surface is a ring. The friction of the spinning stone melts the ice similar to an ice skate. As the stone rotates the water lubricates along to the direction of the spin, leaving more drag on the 'lee' side of the rotation, and actually causes the curl to be opposite of what you might think.

The brooming of the path in front of the stone helps keep the stone on track as the friction of the brooming changes the rate of melt as the stone passes over it.

You'll see the Skip tap the position of where they want the stone to finish and then put their broom at a distance away. The thrower is aiming at the broom's fixed position with the intent to land the stone at the finish position. The further the Skip's broom is away from the finish, the slower the throw will be in order to get more curl.

You should have seen the old corn brooms - the thumping and 'wapping' was thunderous!

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Civil Engineering - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Red Hook, New York (Mid-Hudson River Valley)
Posts: 4364
Good Answers: 177
#8

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/27/2010 2:06 PM

Whowsers, I'm delighted to see a Blog about Curling and the Schenectady Curling Club! Brings back lots of good memories after watching the curling at the Olympics then seeing this Blog!

I grow up in Burnt hills NY, about 6 miles north of Schenectady. When I was in my early teens, my parents joined the Schenectady Curling Club, up on Balltown Road! As a family recreation sport it was great! My only regret is quitting the sport when I joined the US Army.

Always wanted to get back into the sport...problem is it's a 90 minute drive to the club from where I live now!!!!!

ME THANKS YA MR. MOOSE!!!!!!

__________________
"Veni, Vidi, Vici"; hendiatris attributed to Gaius Julius Caesar, 47 B.C.
Reply
Anonymous Poster
#9

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

02/27/2010 8:56 PM

When I was younger, 3 score and a decade plus, we had a reasonable professional horse-shoe court. And we had a set of 4 round, like a large bellvue washer, and we threw them like horse-shoes, except the sport was called curling. Totally different than the Olympic curling.

My older brother was a pro with horse-shoes

Which is the real curling?

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 244
Good Answers: 18
#10
In reply to #9

Re: The Science of Curling (Part 1)

03/01/2010 10:50 AM

Throughout the midwest, throwing large washers from carriage bolts or coal-mining cars into a buried bean can has been a favorite pastime since carriages, carts, and tin cans were invented. But it has never been called 'curling' here, just "Washers."

as in, "Break coming up, who's in for some Washers?"

Many boxed-set versions of Washers have been sold over the decades, from wooden boxes with a single hole in the top, to long wooden boxes with three (3) holes in the top for 1-3-5 points. Also available "made-in-3rd-world-country" are inexpensive boxes that latch together and have a 4" PVC pipe standing up in the inverted box with a pad in the inner surface.

The goal is typically the same, throw 2 or 3 washers into a hole. or holes. or pipe. or can.
"IN" is typically 5 points, 'leaning' or in a middle hole is 3, all nearer than opponents washers when none are in is 1 for each (or in the nearest 1-pt hole). Opponents Washers that 'cover' the first thrower's washer cancel out that score. Play is typically to 21, but must be hit exactly, as any throw resulting in greater than 21 either resets that player back to 13, or subtracts the points of that turn rather than adding them. (e.g. having 17, scoring a 5, subtracts the 5 instead back to 12).

My guess, in your anecdotal case, is that someone familiar with the game of Curling, upon seeing Washers being played for the first time, decided to share the game with your circle and simply decided to call it Curling as it was the nearest similar game he could think of. And those others present just kept calling it that afterward, not knowing of the millions of people who have played simple Washers since cowboy days.

__________________
Call it 'half empty' or 'half full' if you must, I've got the other half in a redundant glass...
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Reply to Blog Entry 10 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Poster (2); CaptMoosie (1); Rheolog (1); rjyou (2); Sandman (1); Steve Melito (2); Tornado (1)

Previous in Blog: Flying on Skis   Next in Blog: The Science of Curling (Part 2)

Advertisement