An Alpine Curling Game in St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria

curling game

Curling is fun! (Photo: Cara Morgan)

I’m finally home from my trip to the Jerusalem Marathon. While I sort through all my photos and videos from that trip, I’ve got a few more posts from my February trip to Switzerland and Austria. While there, I completed my own winter pentathlon of sports: running, curling, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and Alpine skiing. I also hit the pool, sauna and partook in some genuinely crazy apres ski.

I already shared scenes from a snowy trail run in Austria. Up next in the pentathlon is an Alpine curling game!

curling game

So close, but pink wins. (Photo: Cara Morgan)

Like most people, my first experience with curling was watching it on TV during the Olympics. When I went to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I actually got to watch a curling game, interview Team USA, and write an article about how the Olympics have raised the sport’s profile in the U.S.: Curling capitalizes on Olympic coverage.

But I’d never actually played a game of curling…until now.

My Alpine Curling Game
curling game

Curling in Austria! (Photo: Cara Morgan)

It was a snowy night in St. Anton am Arlberg when my friend, Cara, and I made our way to ARLBERG-well.com, a public wellness center with a gym, pool, sauna, tennis center, skating rink and more.

At first, the woman working the desk simply could not comprehend that the two of us wanted to curl. A proper Alpine curling game calls for teams of four. And, as we learned on the trip, Austrians like to do things the proper way.

curling game

The St. Anton village (Photo: Cara Morgan)

But we convinced her that we would still like to play, and plunked 30 Euros to rent a sheet for 2 hours.

I’ll preface it with this: we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. I know the basic rules of Olympic curling. And the rules were similar here; they had them posted next to the rink. But the rock was slightly different and there was no sweeping. So we just made up a “one on one” curling game for ourselves.

They gave us “hacks,” metal wedges to help stabilize your footing. Unlike Olympic curling, players don’t glide across the ice, we learned. You stand in fixed spot and throw the “rock” from there.

curling game

One… (Photo: Cara Morgan)

curling game

Two… (Photo: Cara Morgan)

curling game

Three! (Photo: Cara Morgan)

We threw the rock standing up.

We pushed the rock while kneeling.

curling game

Cara throws the rock from a kneel. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

We even gave ourselves a second throw mid-sheet. With the constant downfall of snow, the rocks weren’t sliding too well. Or maybe we’re just really bad at the sport.

curling game

A mid-sheet throw. (Photo: Cara Morgan)

The goal? Get your rock closest to the center of the “house” or target at the other end. In Olympic curling, it looks a lot like a bullseye. Here we had a square spray painted green with a puck in the center. But we kept the same scoring rule: the team that got its rock closet to the puck won the point.

You can see here that blue won this point.

curling game

Blue wins! (Photo: Cara Morgan)

The game is certainly less exciting with just two players. With four per team, you have eight rocks on the sheet: more targets to “curl” around and “takeout,” a move where you knock your opponent’s rock out of the way like a pool ball.

I threw a few takeouts, but Cara beat me 5 to 4 in the first half. We played two halves of five points each.

This was one of my winning points, no takeout involved.

curling game

Karla wins the point! (Photo: Cara Morgan)

At “half time” we headed inside for a warm cup of Glühwein. It was warm, mulled and delicious. I needed it. My feet were starting to get cold.

curling game

Half time Glühwein (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Then we headed back outside for the second half. The snow was really coming down, so we had to repeatedly shovel our “sheet” of ice to keep it clean.

curling game

Cara shovels the sheet. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The rocks don’t travel nearly as far with snow to slow them down. The shoveling turned curling into an aerobic sport.

Once again, Cara bested me 5 to 4 in the second half of our curling game for a 10 to 8 victory.

curling game

Cara wins the game! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

All told, we were out there for about an hour and a half. It was the perfect way to while away a snowy evening in Austria.

Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning hosts On The Run for New York Road Runners. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 15 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog and travels compulsively.

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03 2014

13 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    That’s looks like so much fun!
    Lesley recently posted..Thursday Night ShowsMy Profile

  2. 3

    Wow, another amazing experience! I haven’t been to Austria, but I imagine that it’s gorgeous. Curling seems like a sport that goes good with beer. I wonder when bowling and horsehoes will be in the olympics.
    Scott Evans recently posted..Social RunningMy Profile

  3. 5

    I can see an opening for you on the US Olympic Curling team. Great sport – not ageist. Go for it!
    Ewen recently posted..Great racing!My Profile

  4. 7

    Curling sounds fun! Kinda looks like bowling
    Jojo @ RunFastEatLots recently posted..Training log 3/30My Profile

  5. 9

    I so want to try curling! I want to try the sliding one though, that looks like the best part! : )
    Danielle recently posted..Weekly Training RecapMy Profile

  6. 11

    In my mind when I make it to the Olympics, it’s in curling! This means, of course, I should probably do it at least once lol. It looks like sooooo much fun! …even with all that snow :)
    Kellie recently posted..Michelob Ultra NYC 13.1RecapMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning
      12

      CBC did a study that concluded Curling is the easiest sport to become an Olympian in. The smaller the country, the easier it is. If you could put a curling team together in a tiny country like Moldova or Liechtenstein, you’d be an Olympian!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Alpine Skiing in St. Anton am Arlberg, AustriaMy Profile

  7. 13

    Ordnung muss sein! There’s something about the Germanic culture and their love of rules and order.

    I went curling once when I lived in Canada. It was fun playing with friends. I hope Carla bought you a drink afterward. It’s part of the curling culture. The winner buys the loser a drink. This way it’s all good whether you win or lose.
    Elle recently posted..Interview with Paddy Runs for BostonMy Profile


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