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Sweeping in curling doesn't just slow the stone down: Here's why

Yasmine Leung February 18, 2022
Sweeping in curling doesn't just slow the stone down: Here's why

Ever since the Beijing Olympics 2022 began, there has been an iflux of questions regarding curling, including if sweeping in the sport slows the stone.

If you tune into Olympic curling, you’ll see one athlete gliding low to precisely slide a granite stone while two teammates furiously sweep the surface, which looks completely smooth as it is.

So if that’s the case, what’s the real reason players sweep the sheet of ice?

  • NEW: 7 best memes about the US men’s curling team at the 2022 Winter Olympics

The Boys Presents: Diabolical | Trailer | Prime Video

The Boys Presents: Diabolical | Trailer | Prime Video

Does sweeping in curling slow the stone?

There are several reasons for sweeping: it makes the stone travel further, to clean the surface beneath the stone, and to decrease the amount of curl.

So, sweeping doesn’t slow the stone, it speeds it up.

The common belief is the ice is smooth but pebbled – when fine mist is sprayed on the ice, it creates tiny ice droplets as it freezes.

Denver Curling Club ice technician Brian Brown describes the ice surface as “like the skin of an orange”, which allows the stone to slide more easily as there is less friction between the stone and the top of the water droplets than there is with smooth ice.

The sweeping motion cleans the debris in the stone’s path but, more importantly, the friction between broom and surface melts the ice to produce a thin layer of water, which helps the stone to slide easier. For the same reason, it minimises the amount of curl.

Here‘s how to ‘curl’ at home

Few of us, especially in warmer countries, have access to large sheets of ice, so viewers have been coming up with some creative ways to get involved at home.

All you need is a Swiffer mop and a Roomba cleaning robot or any round(ish) object – such as an apple – you have lying around the kitchen. Alternatively, if you just happen to work at a construction site, a bulldozer and truck tyres will do. Don’t try the beavers or cats versions at home, though:

Can you beat these animals?

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.