What’s Canada’s favourite game played on ice? Before you say “hockey,” consider this; in 2015, more people tuned in to a Brier semifinal than the Toronto Maple Leafs game that aired the same night.
Even if you don’t follow the sport, here are 12 facts perfect for to inject into the conversation the next time it comes up.
Curling was invented in Scotland over 500 years ago. Visitors to Stirling’s museum can gander at the world’s oldest curling rock; found in a drained pond, it’s inscribed with the year 1511.
Unlike other objects, curling stones “curl” or spin in the same direction as they’re rotated. It’s a phenomenon that baffles even physicists.
The first curling stones in Canada were made of iron. Weighing between 60 and 80 lbs and shaped like tea kettles, they can still be found in trophy cases at clubs across the country.
Today’s curling stones are made of granite — but not just any granite. The stone is sourced exclusively from two locations: the Scottish island of Alisa Craig, and a quarry in Wales.
Curlers are responsible for building Canada’s first indoor ice rink. You can send your thanks to the Royal Montreal Curling Club. First established in 1807 by a group of Scottish immigrants, it’s now the oldest active sports club in North America.
The “hog line” gets its name from an old Scottish slang term for a weak lamb, which was likely to be culled from the flock. Likewise, a “hogged stone” is one that doesn’t reach the far hog line and must be removed from play.
Curling is also known as “the roaring game,” which refers to the sound the rock makes travelling over the ice. The playing surface isn’t smooth; it’s actually covered with droplets of frozen water “pebbles.”
Curling is the only sport where players shake hands at the beginning and at the end of each game. The good sportsmanship extends even further, with players calling themselves out for fouls and winners buying the losers a beer.
To train, professional curlers do need to do full-body workouts. The sport isn’t just about precision — it’s also about flexibility, balance, stamina and strength, as players are expected to launch stones the weight of a three-year-old child and sweep around 1.5 kilometres in the course of a game.
The Beatles nearly died while curling. Okay, that might be a stretch. But in their 1965 musical comedy film Help! they almost bit the dust when a curling stone is booby-trapped with a bomb.
South Korea’s women’s curling team is known as the “Garlic Girls.” The Olympic silver medal-winning team come from a farming region known for producing garlic.
In what can only be described as peak Canadiana, the Tragically Hip appeared in the 2002 film Men With Brooms. Their role? Team Kingston, of course.