Inside the Curling World Cup

winners-beijing-curling-world-cup-grand-final-2019.jpg

by Jacob Newbury

It’s been a remarkable season for the Curling World Cup. It’s taken us to three continents, each providing their own unique memories.

We’ve created more than 220 articles, thousands of social media posts and countless live blog entries. From knowing very little about the roaring game to providing comprehensive coverage; Sport Acuity has drawn millions of impressions to our coverage of the Curling World Cup.

Early wake-ups and all-nighters

The days are long covering curling events. It’s a 6:30am wake-up and you’ll be lucky to be back in the hotel room before midnight. Scoffing down your food in minutes to get back before the next session, and in Beijing in particular, I enjoyed my fair share of sprints from the mixed zone to the media bench - an assault course involving wires, photographers, lifts and security. Exhausting!

At the events themselves, we cover 72 matches, spaced out across five days and 18 sessions. We provide: an extensive live blog, insights into the latest around the ice, quotes, pictures, highlights, reaction, commentary and plenty of colour. We ensure you get a sense of the drama as you sip on a cuppa with your feet up at home. 

Hard – A demand shouted by the skip to get his/her team to sweep faster

Alongside the blog we produce end-of-day reports, features on the players and a huge amount of coverage on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Basically, if you’re not in the arena – you will not miss out. We offer more than a taste.

Around the four events it’s all about the anticipation. We speak to countless players and coaches, ensuring the hype is real. Previews, in-depth profiles, round-ups, competitions, news stories and video content - we do it all!

Sliding off the hack

The curling community resembles a family; close-knit and relatively relaxed in nature. The access to players is unprecedented; from having breakfast on the next table or accompanying them on the bus back to the hotel, it’s a dream for a journalist. 

Pebbles – Small droplets of water sprayed on the ice to assist the stone to curl

It was a pleasure to work alongside World Curling Federation Head of Media, Cameron McAllister, and Media officer, Emily Dwyer, as well as competition photographer, Celine Stucki. As a team, we try and produce the best coverage – but we do have some time for fun.

In Jonkoping, Sweden, for leg three of the series, I had the unforgettable experience of receiving a curling lessons from Rasmus Wranaa, a multiple-time world champion. I arrived in Beijing a new man, confident of my newfound ability to slide from the hack and find the house (that’s the bullseye for you non-curling fanatics). I did so with great satisfaction. I’m expect a call from Team England any day now...

All-round content

The client, the WCF, are keen to provide balanced global coverage. While Olympic medallists and world champions tend to come from a few countries (Canada, United States, Sweden), we sought to throw the spotlight on the lesser names too. At each leg, we spoke to every team – 24 in total – to provide a perspective rarely seen or read. Some of our most-engaged stories were with these individuals or teams.

Bonspiel – An event/competition which derives from Dutch for bond "league, association" and spel "game".

What’s been most exciting, though, has been the opportunity to learn, appreciate and grow to love the sport itself. Never could I have imagined I’d be wilfully watching the provincials championships in Saskatchewan at 1am!

Curling is a minority sport – although it is widely acknowledged as one the fastest-growing winter sports – so our content must be inviting. The most followed curling competition account, for example, is the Grand Slam of Curling, which has been around for almost two decades and runs eight events a year. Their joint number of followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is 59k. The Curling World Cup’s following already exceeds 10k, which is impressive given its infancy and the fact it hosts half the number of events – with none yet in curling’s hotbed of Canada.

Numbers speak volumes

While curling isn’t set to take over the world, it has certainly made an impact in numerous locations, mostly Asia. With half of the events situated in China and Japanese teams being treated like superstars in their own country, there is substantial growth in these areas. Here are some numbers from the past 10 months:

  • Almost two million visits to CurlingWorldCup.com

  • 4.6m impressions on Twitter

  • 320 hours spent covering live events across the season

From optimising our social media, boosting engagement with multimedia, to increasing the SEO effectiveness of our content, we’ve learned a great deal about not only the sport of curling, but also what works for its audience.

Pick – When a stone goes over an object - e.g. hair - which could deviate from its original path.

Our partnership with the WCF and The Stats Zone was a great one and we end the season having made great friends with both those organisations and the coaches and players themselves. It’s been a blast!