2018-03-24 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

Most people around the world do not have the slightest idea what curling is. Well, it is a sport with centuries of traditions from the ices in Scotland which was first introduced to the Winter Olympic Games already in 1924 for a one-time appearance. It then reappeared there permanently in 1998 and now it is one of the most exciting events of the whole games, often called ‘Chess on Ice’, due to the similarities in needing to predict moves well ahead.

Curling is played on an ice sheet with the approximate dimensions of 45 x 5 m. The traditional way is to play the game in teams of four players (in separate male and female disciplines) and recently also in mixed doubles. In the four-member games, each team player has two 20 kg granite stones that s/he tries to place close to the target. Whilst one of the players throws the stone, two other members use their brooms to sweep the ice to ease the stone in getting to its target, under the guidance of the captain (called skip). More details about this fascinating sport can be found in reference # 1 below, and in reference # 2 is a video showing how the curling stones are made.

The yearly women’s world curling championships are taking place this week in North Bay, ON, Canada, another of the leading curling countries. The thirteen participating national teams played each other once in a round robin format. The two best teams in the number of wins, Canada and Sweden, were directly qualified into the semifinals and the third to sixth teams played two games this morning to qualify as the remaining two semifinalists. In one game, Russia beat Czechia, and in the second game, between USA and South Korea, the game was tied at 3-3 after 8 periods (called ends). Then in the ninth end (out of a maximum of ten ends, if no extra end is necessary), something very rare happened, and this was only the third time at all in the history of these world championships.

Since each team throws 8 stones in one end, the maximum theoretical score for one team per end is consequently also 8. That has never happened, but in 1999 Sweden beat Denmark by scoring 7 points in one end, and in 2002 Norway repeated that feat against South Korea (yes, they were involved already then).

In this morning’s game, the Korean players made two fatal mistakes. In throwing stone 11, their vice-skip Kim KyeongAe committed a so-called hogline violation, meaning that she did not release the stone in time, and thus that throw was declared as void. Then in stone 15, the Korean skip Kim EunJung (yes all four ordinary players and the substitute are called Kim, and two of the five players are sisters) throw the stone too hard. In reference # 3 is the official shot-by-shot report from the game and in reference # 4 is a link to a video recording from the game, if you are interested in viewing this rare fact. And in one week’s time, Las Vegas, NV, USA will be the host for the men’s curling world championships. Las Vegas rocks!

And I also learned that in a recent male tournament, something probably even more rare happened, that two stones with opposing colours were both at the exact same distance from the center, so that neither team could win any point. You can find that video clip in reference # 5 below.

The photo below was taken in the Southern part of the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. Travelling on its highways you may find many breathtaking views and this was surely one of them. It was taken close to the city of Ipuiuna on 2018-03-04 from a view point with the adequate name of Pedra do Mirante.

Pedra do Mirante

Photo taken on 2018-03-04 from Pedra do Mirante, close to Ipuiuna, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Curling

2: How it’s made – Curling stones

3: Shot by Shot KOR-USA

4: Korea vs United States – Qualification game (3v6) – Ford World Women’s Curling Championships 2018

5: Most bizarre curling play of the year results in tie end

*: What did you learn in school today ?

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