Curling has been on the Olympic program since 1998. Is it realistic to dream of a Belgian team at one of the next Winter Games? “It takes years of training to reach that high level.”
Fifteen years ago, a Canvas program was the impetus to get a Belgian bobsleigh team at the Winter Olympics. With success, because for the fourth time in a row a Belgian bob is at the start of the Winter Games in Beijing. Can curling follow suit?
Curling is not always taken seriously as an Olympic sport. “It is a real sport that requires a lot of precision,” says Price Atkinson, an American sports journalist who has a podcast about curling, among other things. “The jokes usually stop after one tries it because it’s much harder than it looks on TV.”
Steve Cram, a former top athlete and athletics commentator for the BBC, is already several Winter Games commentator at curling. “Curling is not as physically demanding as athletics, although there is also a physical aspect to it.”
“For me it’s more about psychology and strategy, and being able to place the stones accurately to the centimeter or millimeter. Not obvious when you are under immense pressure.”
“The sport has also changed a lot,” says Price Atkinson. “The days of drinking pints, then hitting the ice to curl up and then back into the pub, well that’s a thing of the past. These are all top athletes who train a lot, also outside the ice rink. They usually also have a sports psychologist and nutritionist on their team.”
“Years of training needed to reach the level for the Winter Games”
The Belgian Red Rocks and the Belgian Huskies stranded on their way to Beijing in an Olympic qualifying tournament. Can a Belgian curling team make it to the Winter Games? According to the experts, this is difficult, but not impossible.
“Getting to the Winter Games will be quite a challenge,” Warns Price Atkinson. “This sport requires enormous precision and time. It takes years of training to reach that level.”
“Most of them play curling from when they were kids,” adds Steve Cram. The absolute top players need to be able to remain calm under great pressure, when your heart rate increases and your hand starts to tremble. But you also need to be intelligent and strategic: three , think four, five steps ahead.”
I do see opportunities in mixed doubles. Look at Italy, which doesn’t have a curling tradition after all, it just takes gold here.
According to NOS commentator Joris van den Bergh, it is impossible to compete with countries such as Canada, USA, Sweden, Norway. “Achieving Olympic success with a men’s or women’s team is an illusion.”
But there is another chance. “I do see opportunities in mixed doubles. Look at Italy, which doesn’t have a curling tradition either, it just takes gold here.”
Steve Cram: “Countries like Denmark or Italy don’t have a big curling program either. There’s no reason why Belgium shouldn’t get here, you don’t need thousands of players for that.”
Appointment in 2026 in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.