FEB 14, 2018 12:30 PM PST

Curling and physics in the Olympics


Curling is somewhat of a mystifying sport to some of us - how really do you play and are there any rules? Let's take a closer look and learn about the physics involved in this unique sport that you may see gracing your television screen during the next couple of Olympic weeks.

To start, let's not diminish the skill involved in throwing a 42-pound granite stone down an ice rink almost 100 feet long and trying to get it to stop at just the right point on a target. In fact, this sport requires several key techniques, which curlers call the ABCs - alignment, balance, and curl. But the geometry and physics behind the throwing of the stone aren't necessarily what catches your eye when you're glued to the TV; it's the sweeping-type motions.

Mike Greenberg of the San Francisco Curling Club explains that what makes curling special is that it's the only sport where you can affect the trajectory of a thrown object after it has been thrown. How do you do it? With those sweeping motions and the fancy looking brooms! Which in fact are not actually brooms at all (oops, my bad), but brushes which players can use to put pressure on the ice and essentially warm it up to a small degree, which can, in turn, help the stone move straighter and up to 10 feet more than it would have otherwise gone. Sound like a sport you want to try? Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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