Curling might lookj like shuffleboard on ice, but this game is no leisurely afternoon at Del Boca Vista. The rules are similar to bocce, but the strategy involved has cemented its reputation as "chess on ice," according to Roger Peckinpaugh, lead instructor and ice-maker at the Mayfield Curling Club in South Euclid. The game finds two teams of four sliding large granite stones toward the "house," a target-like area at the opposite end of the ice. One player delivers the stone, another calls strategy, and two sweepers either rough up or smooth the ice to change the stone's path. Each player delivers the stone twice during the course of each "end" (think innings), and scoring is determined by where stones end up at the close of each round. "It's not elite athletes doing it," says Peckinpaugh, a 22-year curling veteran. "People are attracted to that." Think it might be for you? Here are a few other pointers.
Practice a lot. Curling is a game of precision and takes plenty of practice to master. "If I took you bowling and told you to roll the ball down the alley and stop it before hitting the head pin, that's how precise you need to be in delivery of the stone," Peckinpaugh says. Casual curlers might achieve 30 percent precision while Olympic curlers average 80 to 90 percent accuracy.
Be flexible. That deep bend at the hips you see Olympic curlers sink into as they deliver stones is the ideal, Peckinpaugh says. But it's not a requirement; some players slide on one knee or use a special delivery stick.
Learn the art of sweeping. Sweeping takes endurance but also an understanding of how the pressure and motion of the broom head affects the stone's trajectory. "A sweeper must develop good judgment of the speed of the rock over the ice," Peckinpaugh says. "Good sweepers can save a curling shot."