“I think we have a good chance,” said Captain Van Dorp on the eve of the ten-day world tournament. In the last World Cup in 2019, the team finished 10th, but lost three of the twelve matches with just one stone. Then we gave in to the pressure. I have a feeling that we’ve calmed down a lot at crucial moments.
As a result of this pandemic, the Dutch only played a number of international tournaments abroad after the summer. At the end of August, the Baden Masters final was reached in Switzerland, a tournament Van Dorp describes as the Curling Champions League. We beat Germany in the semi-finals, while we narrowly lost against them in the last World Cup. For us, it is an indication that we are on the right path.
Twelve years ago, Van Dorp and Glasbergen first had an idea that they could reach the top in curling, which was already on the games program in 1932 and officially took Olympic place in 1998. Van Dorp studied physics and the science of Glasbergen’s kinematics and were together. In the Dutch junior team. “We were about to turn old and we asked each other what we wanted to achieve in this sport,” Van Dorp says. “The conclusion was that we both wanted to go to the games.”
They were initially targeting the 2018 Winter Games, but they came too soon. However, the NOCNSF saw progress and decided to add the National Curling Team to the Olympic Support Program. The Sports Parachute Organization invests three hundred thousand euros annually in sports and players receive a salary that they can use to cover their expenses. “This financial assistance is so wonderful,” says Glasbergen, who is no longer working alongside his sport. “As a result, we can now focus completely on curling.”
In addition to more than twenty hours of ice training, the team is in the gym around four times a week. This physical work is especially important for “sweepers”. Their mission is to ensure that the 19.1 kilograms of granite, made of granite that comes from the uninhabited Scottish island of Ailsa Craig, travels in the right track after it has been released by the overpass. “When sweeping, you put force on the broom all over your body,” says Glasbergen, one of two sweepers on the Dutch team. “That way, you can direct the stone as it were.”
In addition to Glasbergen and Van Dorb in their 30s, the team consists of Lorenz Hookman (23), Water Jusjins (23) and Tobias van den Hürk (20). The younger goalkeeper still has a long time to go, as for Pioneers Glasbergen and Van Dorp, time is running out a bit more. “I think we will be able to participate in another Olympic Games after next year,” Van Dorp says. “We take good care of ourselves and are totally fit.”
Despite their successes in recent years, there is no mention of moving to Canada, known as Mecca for curling. There is a professional league in that country. Canada has also won the most Olympic medals. “You can earn well there with the best teams,” says Van Dorp. But we think it is much better to put this sport on the map in the Netherlands.
This works with trial and error. The game of curling increased in popularity, but the recruitment of new members did not materialize. In the Netherlands there are four associations with a combined total of about 150 members. “It’s still hard to get people excited,” says Van Dorp. On ice rinks, the reels often have to compete for the Ice Age with hockey players or skaters. If you can’t hit the ice until 11pm, that’s not very tempting.
Glasbergen and van Dorp hope they can boost the sport by participating in the Beijing Games. If it does not succeed in reaching the top six at the World Cup, there is still a chance in the Olympic qualifiers, which will be held in October. “It will be a wonderful reward for the hard work of the past years and a crown of our friendship,” Van Dorp concludes.
Curling is played on a long narrow skating rink: it is 42.5 meters long and 4.3 meters wide. Two teams of four players can access eight granite stones weighing 19.1kg. The team must move the stone from one side of the path to the “house” on the other side, which consists of colored circles on the ice. The closer to the center of the circles, the better. The path of the stone is affected by sweeping the ice in front of the stone with brooms. Ten teams play so-called “endings”, where they try to get their eight stones as close to the center as possible. Consequently, the match consists of 160 shots and lasts an average of about 3 hours.