USA Men’s curling team won their first gold against Sweden at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on February 24, 2018.
This was the first Olympic curling finals for both America and Sweden. However, the Americans were slight underdogs.
Sweden’s strategy was to make a lot of shots so the Americans would have to challenge them during each end on the sheet. An end is similar to an inning in baseball, and the sheet is the ice the game is played on.
The first ends were very back and forth and an even battle.
A miss by American team leader John Shuster in the second end allowed Sweden to take a lead of two points early on. The U.S. was then able to come back with a hammer, a perfect last shot, to finish the third end with a tie.
Sweden’s Niklus Edin overthrew a stone during the fourth end, which resulted in the only call in the game for a measurement to see which stone was closest to the entrance of the house. The house is the area on the ice that looks like a bullseye. Team USA then took the lead 3-2.
Over shots and errors on the ice caused a back-and-forth tie once again through the fourth and fifth ends. However, by the sixth end, USA had taken the lead once again.
A perfect slide from the Americans during the seventh end resulted in roars from the crowd.
Edin had a big miss, but was able to earn one point to bring the score to a tie once again.
The game was tied 5-5 in the eighth end. However, Edin made another error in the eighth end, which allowed the Americans to take a five point lead, sealing their victory. The United States won 10-7.
Freshman Abby Issacs said, “I am very proud of the U.S. men for winning gold for curling. I saw it on TV and felt pride for our country. I hope we keep up this streak and win gold in the future!”
As people watched Olympic coverage of the curling tournament, they realized how strangely intense and interesting it could get.
Curling is a cross between shuffleboard on ice and bowling. It officially became an Olympic sport in 1998 after being a demonstration sport for many years.
The Olympic curling events take place over a series of round robin events, which make up the tournament. The tournament format is similar to the kind of rounds that basketball tournaments have. Each game consists of 10 ends, and during each end, each team member throws two stones made of granite.
If there is a tie after the 10 ends, the game continues until the tie is broken. The time limit typically is set to 73 minutes per team for the 10 ends with two timeouts. If extra ends are played, they are limited to 10 minutes per team with an extra time out.
In curling, teams slide a polished granite stone over a rectangular sheet of ice. The ice sheet contains a bullseye pattern called the house. The ice sheet, which is 145 x 15 feet, has to be made under specific conditions in order to create a proper playing surface.
The surface starts off as a level field and then water droplets are sprayed, which create a pebbled surface. This surface helps to create the curl, or spin, of the stone.
The goal is to place your team’s stones closer to the center of the house than your opponents’. When the stone is released, teammates sweep the ice with brooms to guide it. The friction from the sweeping creates thin water tracks that the stone can follow to reach its mark.
The game requires a lot of concentration, skill, and strategy. The skip, or team captain, decides where he wants each stone to be placed so that that his team’s stones end up closest to the center of the bullseye.
Once the skip strategizes, he stands near the target and places the broom handle at the point of the ice that he wants the person sliding the stone to aim at.
The slider will begin at the hack, which is the back edge of the course. The slider draws the stone back and then swings the stone forward. He then slides both himself and the stone forward. The slider must release the stone before he crosses the first line.
The skip then directs the other two teammates how to use their brooms to guide the stone. Each team member does this twice within an end. The scores are based on which team has their stones closest to the center of the house.
Freshman Francesca Giacomini said, “My close friend’s Dad actually plays curling. Sometimes when I am there, he will tell stories about it. The sport is pretty cool, but I feel like not a lot of people fully get what it is, even when they watch it.”
If you watched the game, what led you to your predictions on who would win?