Curling Gains Popularity, Club Travels to Nationals

The Harvard curling club travelled more than a stone’s throw away last weekend as it journeyed to Madison, Wis., to compete in the U.S. Collegiate Curling Championship, one of many beneficiaries of the recent influx of interest in the U.S. after consistent Olympic television coverage. The championship’s participation grew to 30 teams last weekend, up from 22 teams a year ago.

“Especially in the last two months, it’s growing in leaps and bounds,”said ‘A’ captain Spiro Karigiannis, a Ph.D. student in the math. “In the beginning, the comedians were making fun of it. The Olympic coverage really helped—it got people talking and interested.”

The ‘A’ team earned a bronze medal in its eight-team tournament pool with a 3-2 record while the ‘B’ team garnered fifth with a record of 1-2.

Funding from the Harvard club office and an outside donor provided for the curlers’ venture to Madison, where the tournament was split into four divisions based upon the sum of team members’ years of experience. Harvard’s ‘B’ team had 19 years of experience, placing it and the ‘A’ team into the B pool of 10 to 20 years of experience.

“[The] A [pool] is for really competitive curlers,” said junior Emma F. Wendt, the founder of the Harvard curling club. “You’ll have a more structured curling team and the curling organization will be more institutional. The good curlers will practice several times a week. We don’t have the benefit of having a regular coach.”

Curling consists of a duel between two teams of four—a lead, a second, a vice skip, and a skip (or captain). The teams follow that lineup while alternating who delivers the stones. While one player is delivering the first of two stones, the skip stands at the end of the ice to indicate the target while the other two may sweep in front of the stone if it appears to be lagging.

An end is completed when all 16 stones have been taken and points are awarded only to the team whose stone is closest to the center of a target—called a house. The winning team earns one point for every stone that is closer to the center than an opponent’s stone.

Harvard’s ‘A’ team, played in one division of the pool while ‘B’ played in the other.

The ‘B’ side was made up of freshman captain Mathias Crawford, junior Matthew R. Lincoln, Wentz and Michael Fuerstman, a first-year graduate student and Chem 7 TF.

Harvard ‘B’ came out strong in its first game against North Dakota.

The Crimson held a 7-3 lead going into the last end, but four timely points knotted the game for North Dakota, and Crawford took a shot right to the button—the center of the house—in the tiebreaker, for the 8-7 victory. This tournament’s tiebreaker is just one of a captain’s responsibilities.

“It’s important that the right shots are called,” Crawford said. “If you call a shot and someone misses that shot, the skip has to figure out what the secondary shot is. You have to read what the rock is doing.”

The Crimson’s momentum didn’t last, as it suffered a 10-4 loss to Wisconsin-Madison, followed by a tough 8-6 defeat by Winona State.

“We tied them with one end to go, and their skip had to essentially draw to the button and he made the shot,” Crawford said.

The loss knocked Harvard ‘B’ out of medal contention and into fifth place for the pool.

“In curling you have two key variables, one is weight—how hard you push the stone and how fast you come out of the hack,” Lincoln said. “The other thing is your line—whether you’re making a curl along the right trajectory. This weekend it just seemed like we’d make one shot and we’d either have the weight or the line.”