Olympic curling: Do men have an advantage?

As I’m watching women’s curling, I wonder, is it necessary to separate men from women in this sport? I understand that the sport is physically taxing but does man’s typically stronger upper body give him a competitive advantage or are these women fit enough that being stronger wouldn’t necessarily help? I’m assuming that there is a limit to how much sweeping can affect a rock’s trajectory.

There might be a small advantage in sweeping, and probably a bigger one in throwing takeouts. Occasionally, you need to make a shot that will knock multiple stones out of the house; and guys are able to slide the stone faster.

I guess I’m not skilled enough to see a difference in the speed of the stones. To me it looks like they have 2 speeds, fast and slow.

There’s at least five; guard, draw, control, normal, and peel. Maybe you just haven’t seen a game with a tough double takeout called. In the men’s games, sometimes those stones come in fast.

The U.S. teams, men and women, have been getting clobbered.

I’ve heard a local Olympian (women’s gold medal in curling) be asked that question. She said that men’s upper body strength is a significant difference, both in throwing and sweeping. She thought that men had a definite advantage in throwing takeouts, and that women had to rely more on finesse. Bear in mind that the stones are 40+ lbs.

While we’re on the subject, at the club level there are leagues and tournaments for men, women, mixed (two men, two women, alternating), and open.

All I know is the British women are either very good at it or the USA is very bad.

Ok. Well that explains part of my confusion. I thought the stones weighed around half that.

Eve Muirhead is world champion, so she is very good. The US team is also good but they’re not making the shots they need to early on. Their shot percentage is terrible, they need to be shooting +80% and they simply aren’t. So what happens is by the 2nd’s rocks the US is playing catchup - even when they have last rock. So you wind up with your third having to make some great shots to try and move the game to a place where the skip can get a few points. The US third just isn’t making those shots. So you have the US skip trying an angle raise in the early ends to try and take 1 or draw down new ice to force GBR to take 1 instead of 7. Missing hard shots that just have to be made is a killer on confidence and makes everything harder.

New day, new teams, new rocks let’s hope they do better.

Up front: I know almost NOTHING about curling. I have absolutely no qualifications for judging whether men have (or SHOULD have) any advantage.

To a casual observer like me, it doesn’t LOOK as if male curlers do anything a woman couldn’t do equally well… but I’ve been wrong about that many times. ANd there are MANY sports and skills that don’t strike me as gender-related but which men do much better than women.

I don’t see any good reason men should be much better at billiards than women, but they ARE! The best women billiards players are nowhere near as good as the top men.

I don’t see any reason why female golfers shouldn’t sink putts as well as men… but they just don’t.

Curling doesn’t LOOK like a sport in which men’s superiority in strength should give them any edge… but it may.

From what I have witnessed (and by playing just a wee bit) the mens’ strength advantage in Curling is similar to their advantage in Bowling.

I’m amusing myself by imagining James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell reading this post out loud :slight_smile:

I’d say it’s less, nowadays. It takes more strength to launch a 16-pound bowling ball than to slide a 42-pound rock down the ice. And, with bowling, for strike balls at least, more force (other things being equal) is always better. In curling, only occasionally–on multi-rock take-outs–is more force better. Most of the time, you’re trying to calibrate to a lesser force.

Now 20 or 30 years ago, when the ice was slower and foot sliders were more primitive, force was more of a challenge. Lots of people used lift deliveries, where you lift the rock off the ice, and that takes strength. Nowadays, not so much.

Women’s curling still emphasizes more draws and fewer multi-rock take-outs, but I suspect this is a legacy issue–women’s instructors and coaches learned the game that way, when multi-rock take-outs were more difficult for a woman, so they teach strategy that way. It may remain so for a long time.

None of the, possibly fewer than 20, curling matches I’ve watched had even a single stone that wasn’t thrown in any way that seemed to be even close to the person’s top strength. Even the fastest of stones looked like a nice push rather than actually using upper body strength or sliding speed.

The stones weigh more than 40 lbs and can’t weigh more than 44 lbs.

Compare the effort of a 120 lbs person repeatedly pushing 40+ pounds across the ice for 10 sets, to the effort of a 180 person. Assuming they are equally fit, the 180 lb person has an advantage.

Throwing is not the high-effort part of the game. No one ever throws as hard as they can, or even very close to that. On the big weight (very high speed) shots strength is going to improve control and accuracy, but that shouldn’t be a huge effect.

On the other hand, the efficacy of sweeping is pretty much a direct function of upper body strength. And, unlike throwing, it’s very high effort.

Throwing darts doesn’t take much effort, but men are much better at it than women.

The power for the delivery is all in the legs. If you were to push the stone as you release it, accuracy would suffer and I’m not sure how much extra speed you’d get since your feet aren’t braced against anything at the time you release. Nonetheless, I’ve seen stones in men’s games that come down the ice a lot faster than women’s. The situation doesn’t call for it very often, but it happens.