Follow Grassroots Curling on Twitter

Follow Grassroots Curling on Twitter: @grassrootscurl

Friday, May 10, 2013

Curling lingo: Anyone ready to weagle?

Anyone seen a weagle out there?

During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, a friend of mine said she was watching curling and couldn’t understand a bloody thing.

“Oh, I can explain the rules to you,” I offered.

“No,” she said. “It’s the LINGO. What the hell are they talking about? In-off, slash double, turned it in, heater, board weight…WTF??”

True. We curlers do have a language all our own, and after her comments, I started listening more clearly to what Vic, Linda and Russ (as well as other curling commentators on other networks) were saying.

Of course it made perfect sense to me, but I’ve been speaking the language for years. I’m reminded of the looks on the faces of the high-school curlers I coached this year as I explained why trying to “steal one without, take two with” were some of the options they could try. Wha?

Curling lingo has developed over the years. The curlers who joined my parents on the ice at CFB Downsview back in the sixties probably wouldn’t understand much of the commentary either, although they knew the game well enough and would probably figure it out. But for a newcomer to the sport? Watching it on TV must be quite a challenge – as my friend suggested.

It’s not just that the sport has its own terms – every sport has that. But curling language is evolving. “Hurry hard” is the familiar skip’s call for sweeping, but you can thank Russ Howard for that one. I’m not certain, but I seem to recall it was the late Sandra Schmirler who introduced that wonderful description of what a good take-out should do: “Make it go away.” (Open to correction here. Anyone?)

And of course the 2012-2013 season saw the introduction of a new curling term: the Weagle. Or “to weagle” – as in, tick a guard out of the way, but not out of play, a tactic that works wonders to combat the aggressive four-rock free-guard-zone rule.

As a writer, language is my passion. As a curler, the words that describe and drive my game are tools. I love that the toolbox is full of lively, meaningful, creative and innovative language, and I love that the sport is growing and changing.