When our daughter was very young, we would bring her to the club to watch us curl. Sitting behind the glass with her bag of chips (a real treat!), she would point out at the ice and exclaim “Slide pop!”
It didn’t take us long to figure out that she had just invented a name for the sport of curling. That’s exactly the sound you hear from behind the glass as a rock slides down the ice and makes contact with another rock. Next time you have the chance, stop and listen. It’s exactly as my little girl described it: a long, rumbling slide, and then the inevitable “pop”.
Regular curlers probably don’t pay attention to the many sounds echoing around their club. Sounds that seemed unique and unusual to us when we walked in to play our first game have now slipped into the familiar backdrop.
Sure, there’s always the soundtrack of the game, such as instructions hollered down the ice by the skip or the familiar “Sweep! Hurry! Whoa!” (The uninitiated make fun of this essential ingredient of the Roaring Game. It’s quite simply a truth universally acknowledged that skips are expected to roar their sweeping instructions. And where would we be without them? We’d be coming up short, or over-curling. Roar on, curlers!)
But those sounds are part of the game. If you listen, you’ll hear much more happening. Here are six unique sounds that float around every curling club – sounds you may not even notice anymore.
- Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
Players congregate in the club room, waiting for the icemaker to finish pebbling or the early draw to finish. There’s a lot of chatting going on, but you can’t hear distinct conversations. It’s just one big rhubarb – the sound of curlers waiting to get on the ice.
- “Good curling!”
The game starts and ends with a handshake, but the words have to be spoken too, a ritual exchange of goodwill. Every sheet, every player, every game.
One of the most distinct sounds in the game: the rumble of a granite rock sliding over fresh pebble for just under 44.5 metres (that’s 146 feet, for those of you still using the Imperial measurement system). Draw weight or hit weight, in-turn or out-turn, there is nothing in the world like the rumble of a curling stone travelling towards its target.
- The white noise of machinery at work
Ice doesn’t happen by magic. A lot of time, effort and mechanical know-how goes into the creation of our curling world. Making ice – and maintaining it – is an art and a science that requires an experienced, knowledgeable craftsperson working with efficient, specialized equipment. Although you may not want to hear the sounds inside your icemaker’s head, you can very easily hear the sounds of his or her ice-making equipment. Stop. Close your eyes. Listen. That hum, whine or whirr is the sound of ice being maintained so that you can throw your next shot and have some idea of where it’s going to end up.
- The rip of Velcro
The sound of ripping Velcro means the gloves are coming off. It might be after the skip’s final shot in the eighth end, or it might be much earlier, depending on which side of the score you’re on. But when it’s “Velcro time,” your game is done.
And finally, once you’re off the ice, the bartender goes to work. Listen for the unmistakable – and welcome – sounds of glass, ice, and libation of choice.
Next time you’re out on the ice between shots, or hanging around the club room, close your eyes and listen to the ever-present, often unnoticed, sounds of your curling club.