It’s been called “chess on ice,” though to the untrained observer it looks more like a bizarre take on shuffleboard, played with skaters, stones and brooms. And players at Ohio State are looking for recruits.
“We’re really trying to grow the sport on campus,” said Alex Harnocz, a graduate student in city planning and the membership chairman of the OSU Curling Club. “The skill set for curling is similar to golf. It’s about balance, body control and concentration.”
Curling can be a cheaper alternative to intramural hockey for students who like to get out on the ice, Harnocz said.
He sees curling as an opportunity for students who were good athletes in high school but don’t compete at the varsity level in college.
“When I came to OSU, I still wanted to do competitive things,” he said. “Curling has been a great way to do that.”
With the Vancouver Winter Olympics approaching in February, Harnocz expects a rise in membership.
The club meets at the Columbus Curling Club in Clintonville, where
students new to the sport can attend beginner clinics.
“I knew enough about curling from the Olympics,” said Adam Ratner, a first-year who attended one of the clinics. “But I was still shocked by how long the ice was.”
The standard curling pitch is 150 feet long and 15 feet wide.
The game is played by two four-member teams. The teams take turns sliding 40-pound granite stones across the ice toward a target on the other end. Team members sweep the ice in front of the stone to control its speed and trajectory as it travels.
“It’s not an easy motion,” Ratner said. “You don’t really throw the stone as much as you push it out of the blocks and guide it.”
Ratner took turns throwing and sweeping the stone at the clinic.
“The athletic part was the sweeping,” he said. “It was a serious workout.”
In order to sweep, Ratner had to get across the ice without losing his balance and avoid touching the stone with his broom.
As one team member throws and two others sweep, the fourth stands at the opposite end of the ice directing his team.
Not only do curlers have to maintain balance as they sweep across the ice, they also have to be able to follow instructions quickly. It is a multifaceted sport Harnocz is excited to see grow on campus.