Tuesday, March 17, 2015

World Women's Curling Championship 2015

This event is being held in Sapporo this week. There are twelve teams participating in a round robin type tournament: Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. (You can see pictures of the teams and read about the event in English here). I’d only seen curling briefly on the Olympics on television and really knew nothing about it.  Ted has participated in it twice in Hokkaido with his university students and told me a little about the rules and such.  He also said it is a lot harder than it looks.


 
I was fortunate to be able to attend and see for myself on Sunday.  Ted was on a three day backcountry ski trip with a university class, so I went alone. The unreserved seating ticket cost 1000 yen and entitled me to attend all three sessions that day.  I attended the 9:00 am and the 2:00 pm, but didn’t stay for the 7:00 pm one. There were four “lanes” on the ice, so four matches with eight teams could be going on at the same time.

 
At the 9:00 am session, there were only two matches, with one being Japan vs. Sweden. I was sitting kind of far away so my photos aren’t very good, but they are all I have to show. Keep in mind that I have had no instruction in curling and that I’m writing from observation, so it may be totally wrong. Both teams start at one side and take turns sending the stone to the target area of four circles inside each other at the other end. Each team has eight stones. There are four team members, with one being at the goal area, one being the one who sends the stone down the lane (who can also sweep) and two sweepers.


 
The sender pushes off a foot block with the handle of the stone in one hand and the broom in the other, then lets go of the stone before getting to the red line. It didn’t appear that she pushed the stone forward, it just went along with the momentum from pushing off the foot block. I think the two sweepers are melting the ice a little bit to make the stone go the way they want. The person at the goal gives signals or directions to the others.  Sometimes they let the stone stay in front, outside the circles, sort of in the way for the next stone coming. Other times the moving stone bumped other stones out of the circles or just stopped in the circles.  I’m sure there is much strategy involved in where the stones go. Sometimes the coach comes out and confers with the players about strategy.


 
 

 
I have no idea how the scoring works because in this “inning” Japan had five stones (yellow) and Sweden had two stones (red) in the circle section and Japan was awarded two points, Sweden zero. The Russia-Norway match ended after the sixth “inning”.  I don’t know if there is a rule about being ahead by a certain amount or if Norway conceded at that point. Japan won over Sweden 6-4.



 
After moving to the other side of the area to be closer to the match with the American team, I hung out between matches and watched the ice maintenance.


 
This is the afternoon line-up of teams.  The China-USA lane is on the left.

 
Some shots of the USA team (red stones). Unfortunately, USA lost and was in last place after the afternoon session.





 
In the afternoon, I met one of my English students, who was working as a volunteer translator for the first aid room. I am very proud of her and the initiative she took to use her English skills. Here she is with the event nurse.

 
We went out to dinner together at a Chinese restaurant, then headed back together to our town by bus.


It was a very interesting and enjoyable day.

 

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! Both the Japanese and Swedish teams used to be very strong and they have both got a lot of media coverage. As I like both countries I am happy if either country wins! I have, however, always found the rules of the game difficult to understand.

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  2. You are always up to the funnest stuff! That lunch looks good and filling too.

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