You may know curling as the sport where they throw a rock on the ice and push it around. Oh, and some yelling here and there.
But there's so much more to curling, and Olympic curlers John Shuster, Matt Hamilton and Colin Hufman explained the ins and outs to TODAY as the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics got under way.
Curling isn't just an icy game of shuffleboard — in fact, Shuster, one of the flag-bearers for Team USA, says you become "public enemy number one" if you compare curling to shuffleboard. It requires precision, strength, adrenaline, a good sense of teamwork and some mean sweeping skills.
"I think it’s having, you know, an object in your hand that you’re trying to put in a precise place 150 feet away. And you’re having to slide on the ice and figure out how to get there... so you can never, like, truly master it," Shuster told TODAY.
With practice and precision, players push their stones toward a target, hoping to get as close as possible to win the most points.
Team USA is, of course, determined to win at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics — but they can't reach that goal without a strong team bond and a love for the sport.
"That’s what it’s supposed to be, it’s a game of camaraderie and friendship," Shuster said.
Peter Alexander and Kristen Welker of Weekend TODAY wanted to try curling themselves, and Team USA was gracious enough to give them some expert tips.
1. Stay upright
Matt Hamilton told Peter and Kristen that, by far, one of the most important things to remember is to stay upright when pushing the stone. "You can hit your head, and that hurts, but if you hit your elbow or knee hard, then it’s gonna make just the game harder. So honestly, do what you can to stay upright," he told TODAY.
2. Stretch it out
Like any sport, it's important to be limber and have your muscles warmed up before you start practicing. "Try and get in some really deep lunges on the boards and kinda get used to it," Hamilton said. The earlier you can get on the board and get used to the ice, the better.
3. Wear pants with some stretch
It might sound silly, but Shuster said this makes all the difference. "That’s gonna be critical to actually be able to even get down into whatever position you’re supposed to be in," he said.
4. Be good at multi-tasking
No, really. Hufman says that skating while trying to sweep as the stone is moving is "definitely the hardest part." Not to mention, you have to be aware of the speed of the stone, and follow at a speed that can keep up with the stone.
5. Remember everyone messes up — even Olympians.
At the end of the day, no curler is perfect — not even Olympic curlers. Even Hamilton admits to making certain mistakes more than others. "I tend to over-throw my stones," he told TODAY.
You can watch Team USA men’s curling at the Olympics beginning at 7:05 a.m. ET on Feb. 9 on NBC or Peacock.