Curling: Right on the Button

Shot rock. Skip. Tee line. The hammer. If these terms are familiar and you’ve just figured out what it means to throw a guard, peel, and draw to the button, welcome to my quadrennial obsession: Olympic curling. Despite the fact that I’ve never stepped foot on a sheet, thrown a stone and certainly never swept with the kind of vigor you see in curling, I can’t get enough of this sport when it appears on my TV every four years.

Modern curling, with its precisely measured indoor ice sheets, timing clocks, and even sensors inside the stones to track them, is a far cry from rink conditions of a century ago. Enjoy a slide down memory lane through these photographs of outdoor curling in Central Park in New York City and Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York.

Curling in Central Park, New York. Photo by Detroit Publishing Company, between 1900 and 1906. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a09021

Curling in Central Park, New York. Photo by Detroit Publishing Company, between 1900 and 1906. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a09021

Curling, Van Cortlandt Park, New York. Photo by Bain News Service.  http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.00087

Curling, Van Cortlandt Park, New York. Photo by Bain News Service. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.00087

[Curling on Jamaica Pond, Boston, Massachusetts]. Photo by Charles H. Currier, ca. 1890s. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a48481

[Curling on Jamaica Pond, Boston, Massachusetts]. Photo by Charles H. Currier, ca. 1890s. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a48481

And don’t miss the animated sweeping taking place on Jamaica Pond in Boston, Massachusetts (right). I can almost hear the the skip yelling to sweep harder!  The Olympic medals for curling will be handed out in the next few days, so enjoy the the game sometimes referred to as “chess on ice” while you can. Four years is a long time to wait!

[Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to Van Cortlandt Park as being in Brooklyn, but it is in fact in the Bronx.]

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4 Comments

  1. Joyce Foley
    February 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I ice skated on the lake in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. I never heard of a Van Cortland Park in Brooklyn. Thank you for this interesting article on Curling.

  2. Kristi Finefield
    February 20, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Thank you for catching my error! Van Cortlandt Park is in fact in The Bronx, as you point out. I’m glad you enjoyed the post – and hope you enjoyed the ice skating, too!

  3. Lisa M
    February 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    So glad you are enamored of curling and posted these historic photos. You can try curling at the Potomac Curling Club at the National Capital Curling Center (in Laurel, MD) at their March 22 Learn to Curl sessions. If you are ever in Paoli, PA, please come visit the Philadelphia Curling Club.
    Lisa from Narberth, PA

  4. Kristi Finefield
    February 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Lisa,

    Thank you for both the kind offer and the information about my local curling options. I’ve heard about the Laurel, MD facility but have never visited. I’m tempted to give it a try!

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