Curling fans — especially those who just fell in love with the sport in Sochi — listen up: you don’t have to wait four years to indulge in your new obsession. You just have to wait until next month, when the World Championships will go down.
They’re just like the Olympics, but without all those other sports. (Who needs those sports anyway?)
Interestingly, the men’s and women’s world championship competitions happen completely apart. The women will play in Saint John, Canada, from March 15-23, while the men will curl in Beijing from March 30 to April 7.
And if that’s still too far off for you, Paralympic curling is just a mere two weeks. Here’s the scoop on each event:
Paralympics Wheelchair Curling, March 8-15
Wheelchair curling is similar to the original sport, but with two key differences (besides the wheelchair) — the teams are coed and there’s no sweeping.
That latter difference means the game relies solely on a stone thrower’s upper body movements. Without the sweepers to help the stone move, or a sliding start to set the stone’s speed, wheelchair curlers require a lot more precision in their throws, which are typically done with a special stick.
“It’s all strategy with a lot of technical ability,” said Canada’s skip Jim Armstrong in a demonstration video. Canada won the gold medal in 2010 and is a favorite to win again in Sochi.
The United States will also field a team, which is expected to get some airtime on NBC Sports. Just as in regular curling, all 10 teams will play each other in the round-robin sessions to determine who will qualify for the semifinals. Team USA’s first match will be against Slovakia at 12:30 a.m. EST on March 8.
Ford World Women’s Curling Championship 2014, March 15-23
Fans of Russian beauty Anna Sidorova will be happy to know she’ll be back in Saint John, Canada, to once again act as skip for the Russian rink. Another familiar face fans might recognize is South Korean skip Jisun Kim, who led her team in the Olympics to a disappointing eighth-place finish. Like Sidorova, who also didn’t make the semifinals, Kim will be fighting for redemption next month. Swedish skip Margaretha Sigfridsson will also be back with her team, hoping to trade her Olympic second-place finish in for a first.
But many of the faces will be new, at least to viewers who just started watching curling this month. Canada, Denmark and Scotland (known in the Olympics as Great Britain) will enter wholly different rinks than those that were in Sochi. There will also be teams from Latvia and the Czech Republic, two countries that didn’t field an Olympic team this year.
Round-robin games will run from March 15-20, and the championship will be contended on March 23. The U.S. rink is set to face China in their first match on March 15 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, although viewers will likely have to tune in to Canadian television or the Internet to watch.
World Men’s Curling Championship, March 30-April 7
Two words: Norway’s pants. They and the curlers who wear them will be in Beijing hoping for a few more wins than they earned during the Sochi Olympics, curler Christoffer Svae confirmed to a Norwegian news outlet this week. Svae added, however, that the Beijing world championships might be the team’s last hurrah — or rather, its last “HURRRRY HARRRD!” — before they retire. Could this be the pants’ swan song, too?
Another confirmed Olympic repeat is Germany’s team, led by millionaire skip John Jahr, a.k.a. the most interesting curler in the world, who said he earned his millions by working “in this and that.”
Most of the other teams, however, are still being finalized, including the U.S. rink, but the schedule is already set. The U.S. team, whoever it might be, will face Switzerland in the first round-robin match on March 30 at 1 a.m. Eastern time. The medals will be awarded on April 7. But again, unless you’re in Canada, you’ll probably have the best luck watching the action on the Web.
Bonus: For those truly obsessed with curling, you can show your spirit year-round by wearing Norway’s wildly patterned pants, preferably in public. That is, if you have $115 you’re willing to part with. (Worth it.)