When I visited PyeongChang last July, I’ve had the opportunity to try out curling, one of the sports categories in Olympic Winter Games. People normally undermine the sports, thinking all the athletes do are using broomsticks to polish the floor, allowing the stone to glide smoothly across the ground. But trust me, our perceptions do not quite match the reality.
The thing is, in reality, the importance is placed heavily on the person who pushes the stone at the starting line. His use of force and direction are pivotal in guiding the stone to the circular target on the other side. The athletes who then use the broomstick to sweep the floor merely try to help the stone when it slows down (to help it move further along) or when it changes direction (to lead it back to the circular target).
With the strong emphasis on the player who pushes the stone at the starting line, I cannot tell you how much I came to respect athletes who compete in wheelchair curling, one of the sports categories for Paralympic Winter Games.
Wheelchair curling is an adaptation of curling for athletes with disabilities, and it has been played in Paralympic Winter Games since 2006. Wheelchair curling is special in that there are no players who sweep the stone to the circular target. Players solely use a delivery stick, a pole that fits over the handle of the stone, to slide the stone across.
I was in awe while watching a YouTube video of the wheelchair curling gold-medal game for Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games between Canada and Russia. The amount of precision and skills these athletes use to slide the 20kg stone with a stick is beyond me.
Here, you can see a fantastic throw and an incredible aim to the circular target by Jim Armstrong, a former curler and current Canadian wheelchair curler who led Canada to gold. The Canadian Wheelchair Curling team is definitely the team to look out for in the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. Canada has won three of the three gold medals since wheelchair curling was introduced to the Paralympics in 2006.
For the Korean readers out there, make sure to root for the South Korean team, as it is one of the top contenders for the gold medal in wheelchair curling. At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, the South Korean Wheelchair Curling team managed to win home the silver medal. Hopefully, the home ground advantage in 2018 will help the South Korean team beat the winning streak by the Canadian team.
This article was written by an official college student reporter of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, WINNERS.
Some contents might be different from the official position of the Organizing Committee.