Sometimes an event shoot is working the inside of a blank room with 50 people in the same clothes looking at Powerpoint, and sometimes an event shoot is people sliding around on ice. Yesterday’s shoot for Hendrick’s Gin was the later!
Hendrick’s Gin National Ambassador, Mark Stoddard, is in Seattle this week talking to gin-lovers and bartenders about the special, pot distilled, Scottish gin. From just outside the distillery, located in Girvan, Scotland in Ayershire in SouthWest Scotland, there are views of a small island called Ailsa Craig. This island, made of granite, is considered the ‘Home of Curling’ by many. For centuries, this granite island was the only place in the world where the granite for curling stones was mined.
I remember the first time I saw the Blue Angels fly after I got my pilots license. I had always been impressed by the skill and precision, but it wasn’t until I had experience flying a plane myself that I was really able to appreciate the incredible amount of skill that went into controlling those birds. Until yesterday, I appreciated curling. I would seek it out. I looked forward to it during the Olympics, but as of last night I finally understand the difficulty of the sport and the amount of practice that goes into competitive play.
Briefly, the rules of the game go like this. There are 2 teams of 4, and each person throws heavy rocks down a sheet of ice about 120 feet long, into a set of circles called the “House.” The teams alternate players until each person has thrown a stone twice, so 16 stones are now down at the other end of the sheet – that’s called an “End.” The game consists of 10 Ends. Scoring happens after each end; the team that has the stone closest to the center of the House scores a point. If your team has 3 stones closer to the center of the House than the opposing team’s closest stone, your team gets 3 points for that End. The game is decided based on the total number of points after all 10 Ends. A stone has to at least touch the outside rind – the 12′ circle – to count. If no stones are inside that circle, no points are awarded.
There’s a lot of strategery that goes into this. If you’ve ever played bar shuffleboard (or shufflepuck as some call it), imagine that but on 16′ wide, 120′ long sheets of ice. You’re trying to ‘lay’ scoring stones, and other defensive stones. The “Skip” (captain of the team) gives direction to the person throwing the stone on direction and which way to twist (or “Curl”) the stone. There are 2 people with soft, foam brooms sweeping the ice ahead of the stone. Their goal is to make the stone go faster or further, but someone on the other team can sweep behind the stone once it’s past the “T-Line” (the line that goes across the middle of the House from side-to-side), hoping the stone will go out of the back of the House – out of play.
Now, imagine putting 20 people on these sheets that have had a couple cocktails, that have never done this before, trying their durndest to get these stones down the ice. Hilarity ensues!
Seattle’s bartending community is strong, and some of the finest joined for the fun. Add some food, a party bus, masks and other festive headwear and you have a party! Big thanks to Hendrick’s Gin for inviting such a fun group, for inviting me to play a little too, and for one heckuva fun photo shoot!
You can see all the photos from the Hendrick’s Gin Curling event here, and if you’re in Seattle you can visit the Granite Curling Club to try your hand as well.