Austrian Curling

17.04.2019
Nowhere else in Austria are there as many fans of Austrian curling, Eisstockschießen, as there are in Styria: in more than 600 clubs there are over 40,000 members of all ages. It is deeply ingrained into the customs of the land, as the 1931 Mürzzuschlag Winter Olympics picture below shows (Source: Austria-Forum). Eisstockschießen is undoubtedly one of the most popular winter sports in the Mariazellerland, maybe even more than skiing. Styrians never miss a ski race, especially when Austrian favorites are in the lead, which is most often the case. So what does a loyal supporter do when they've got a curling match to attend to but there is a world cup race going on? They go on with the match of course while listening to frequent world cup updates on their phone. The Mariazell area itself has at least 4 ice rinks for curling to offer, all of them maintained with a professional passion to detail that reminds one of French boules. In our experience the rules are about as complex and the arguments as heated as their French counterpart.

There are three different types of competition: team play, target shooting and long-range shooting. The game with two teams (Moarschaften) is most fun to watch as the players try to shoot the curling stones from a fixed starting point as close as possible to the Daube (a round, moving target made usually of rubber, but not uncommonly a wooden cube). The ice rinks are 28 meters long and 3 meters wide, on either side there is a launching point and a target field of 6x3 meters, the center of the field is marked by the Daube cross. The stones reach from 2,73kg to 3,83kg in weight, precisely. One of the teams begins the game by trying to play their stones into the target field. Then the other team is playing for the best advantage position. This leads to several curling stones loosing their initial position, the ones that fall outside of the target field are removed. This is an excellent opportunity to shoot the best placed curling stones of the opposing team out of the field. Once all stones have been played, the stone of the team that has the prime location gets the maximum amount of three points. For each stone that is closest to the Daube than the ones of the opposing team two more points can be won. A game has six turns and the start always changes regardless of the outcome of the previous turn. The team with the greatest number of "stone points" will be awarded two game points, the other gets nothing. In a best case scenario the turn win will have 3+2+2+2=9 stone points. The team with the most points wins the tournament. It sounds simple, but there is more granularity to it, various angles that may need scientific measurement and potential ties to discuss. The arguments surrounding the game are as much fun to watch as the game itself.

We put together a fine selection of ice rinks with all the equipment included, for your next family and friends gathering. Accompanied by a cup or two of mulled wine and a few beers it is the most fun you've had on an ice rink without even having to put your skates on.
  • Halltal: Gasthaus Müller. Tel.: 03882/2526
  • Mariazell: Tennisplatz Mariazell (Mariazeller Stüberl). Tel.: 03882/4101
  • Gusswerk: Gasthaus Schöggl Aschbach. Tel.: 03884/203
  • Gasthaus Leitner Greith. Tel.: 03885/203
  • Gasthaus Greifensteiner Salzatal. Tel.: 03885/209

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