Tips from a professional curler | Sanitas magazine

Six questions to Simon Roth, former elite player


What makes curling such a fun activity?

Curling gives you instant satisfaction – your very first stone might end up right in the middle. And because you play with other people in a small team of four, there’s a unique sense of belonging and team spirit. Playing on the ice is fun and exciting – it’s simply addictive! I used to lead courses for beginners and companies, and in most cases even the people who were most sceptical at the beginning eventually didn’t want to stop.

Why do you always give the curling stone a slight turn?

The rotation makes sure the stone keeps moving in the direction you want it to go in. In other words it maintains a more stable course; without rotation the stone’s path is uncontrolled and will be affected by any unevenness or speck of dirt. Rotation also enables you to curl the stone around guards, stones that are in the way. A draw (in other words a stone thrown to stay in the house) rotates around two and a half times on its way down the sheet.

Are all curling stones the same?

No. Each stone runs slightly differently, and top curlers will notice even the most subtle differences. Stones are allocated to the different team members according to their characteristics. The first player gets the “worst” stones, because at this point it’s still not so serious if a stone goes slightly off course. The best stones are reserved for the most important shots later on in the end.

What does “reading the ice” mean?

The ice on the curling rink is always prepared by spraying water droplets on the ice that form “pebbles” on freezing. The pebbled ice structure enables the stone to run in a controlled fashion. It wouldn’t be possible to control the stone’s path on completely smooth ice. The pebbles are worn down by sweeping in the course of play, and the teams have to know exactly where the ice is smoothest. In other words, they have to be able to “read” the ice. At these places the stone will run differently, and even the tiniest differences can influence length and direction.

What’s the difference between curling and ice stock or Bavarian curling?

An ice stock is much lighter than a curling stone. It’s hurled towards the target, and can’t be influenced by sweeping. Another difference is that’s there’s no permanently marked target as in curling. Instead, players aim for the so-called Daube, a moveable target made of rubber, similar to an ice hockey puck.

Is curling good for kids?

Oh yes. Curling’s a great winter sport for families with children. Practically all rinks offer a programme specially geared to kids, who are called Cherry Rockers in Swiss curling circles. Kids play with lighter stones on shorter sheets. Eight or so is the ideal age to start.

Rink, draw and guard
A short glossary of curling terms