Matt Butler: Now we know just how far all that sweeping in curling can take the stone

View from the sofa: Scottish Curling Championships, BBC 2 Scotland

We’re all curling experts now, right? We all know the hammer is more than a Motörhead song or a carpenter’s implement. And we are all familiar with the fact that an end isn’t necessarily the finish, unless it is the 10th, then it is the end. Or the finish. Easy.

We didn’t know any of this before the Olympics started. And such was the drawn-out format of the curling competition in Sochi we had almost two weeks to learn these terms. By Friday afternoon we could all commentate, grimace and tut as the abrasive Canadians completely outplayed David Murdoch and his team – sorry, rink – in the gold medal match.

But before Murdoch played his way to silver and his female counterpart Eve Muirhead battled to bronze, there was even more curling on the box: one for the purists – curling hipsters, if such a thing exists. The Scottish Championships, no less. And watching the highlights on Wednesday night gave us some vital information that in turn helped us enjoy Friday’s final in Sochi.

Just as beard-stroking football uberfans had been waxing lyrical about a “false nine” years before Spain won the European Championship, those who had watched the highlights of the Scottish Curling Championships could dazzle onlookers with their knowledge of sweeping, skips and leads.

We had assistance from the commentators, Robin Copland and Bob Kelly, explaining the rules and intricacies of the game. Yes, they aren’t all that complex, but it is nice to know exactly what you are watching. There were a few other nuggets of information that were useful. That sweeping that looks like manic cleaning? Apparently, it makes the stones slide an extra seven to nine feet.

Read more: David Murdoch sweep silver in curling final
Rhona Howie praises women's curling team for displaying their character in final

The tournament was held in a small arena in Perth, with an audience of what we might call a traditional curling crowd, rather than the one in Sochi populated by those rowdy Canadians.

And because it was a lot more intimate than the Ice Cube, you got a chance to hear not only the tactical discussions among the players, but also the satisfying rumble of the stones sliding over the ice. It was a sound that you wanted to hear over and over – it was reminiscent of the noise that accompanies the heaving aside of a heavy stone tomb in the Indiana Jones films.

It was a shame that the Scottish Championships were held at exactly the same time as the Olympics – a quirk which precludes any of Team GB’s medallists from playing in the World Championships next month. It seemed as worthwhile as setting up a travelling funfair next to Disneyland.

But those who did tune in would have been pleased. Just as a decent ghost train off the back of a truck can scare the wits out of you with a few well-placed carny types along the ride, the final, between Team David Edwards and Team Ewen MacDonald, drew us in, even those with no connection to either quartet. With a place at the World Championships riding on the result, it was a tense affair. For the record, MacDonald’s rink dominated, winning 6-4.

And it set up the newly minted curling purists among us perfectly for the Olympic final. We could speak about the relative merits of a draw or a takeout. And we could talk about an end, even if we didn’t mean the finish. Or the end, as in the end.

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links