On thin ice compared to real curling heroes

IN the wake of Team GB's success on the ice in Sochi, a lot of us have caught curling's equivalent of Wimbledon fever.

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The competitive pair try their hands at Braehead ice rink, coached by Laura Yuill
The competitive pair try their hands at Braehead ice rink, coached by Laura Yuill

You know, those few weeks of summer when men, women and children of every shape and size pick up a tennis racket and try emulate the on-court grace of Andy Murray ... with wildly mixed results.

This is curling fever - and we've all got the bug.

I made the mistake sitting at my desk one day, as the Team GB curlers strolled to another victory, of saying how easy it looked.

The gaffer overheard me and immediately set up a 'Stef v Matty' curling challenge.

No sooner had we entered the Braehead Curling Rink and witnessed first hand the sheer length of each rink, when the cold truth started to settle in.

It's a long, long way from one end to the other.

We were given a quick lesson in the rules of the game and the basic skills.

The most common sight on the excellent television coverage is players frantically brushing the ice in front of the moving stone.

This heats up the ice, we are told, helping the stone to glide more easily and quickly.

And take it from us, it's hard work.

We were taken one length of the ice, brushing and lifting our brushes at the command of young coach Laura Yuill, and already our hearts were beating faster and our breathing sped up.

The Olympians do this for up to eight stones in each end, of which there are 10.

That could mean up to 80 frantic trips up the ice.

We played one end against each other and, it has to be said, I got a stone closest to the house as most of Matty's bounced off the back board.

But my stone wasn't close enough to count as a scoring shot, so that makes this contest a draw.

And with Matty having spent more time with her backside on the ice than me, I might even lay claim to a victory by default.


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