Every four years during the Winter Olympics, casual viewers of the sport curling would be surprised to hear strategies, cheers, venting, and the like from their TV screens. Unlike most sports, curling broadcasts each and every word that an athlete is saying. This is because curlers wear microphones on the ice during high-level competitions, such as the Olympics. Curlers are constantly being made aware that their conversations on the ice are not private and are broadcasted to the entire world.
In an interview, Danish curler Madeleine Dupont says, “If this was my first time doing it, I think it would be very strange. But now I’ve done it for 20 years and then it’s okay.” Being reminded of the fact that everyone can hear everything, Dupont also says that having a microphone keeps them from “saying something rude.” John Shuster, an American curler, also mentioned “Having a mic on just reminds me of trying to be the person that I strive to be, as opposed to sometimes letting emotions get the best of you.”
Matt Hamilton, Shuster’s teammate, has embraced the use of a microphone on ice. To him, wearing a mic is the coolest part of the sport as it allows the athletes to display their personalities. “The fact that you get to know exactly what’s running through our heads out on the ice just makes us more relatable. You’re able to loosen up and have a good time,” he said. A lot of athletes have the urge to vent and occasionally say words that aren’t allowed to be aired live on TV. It’s an issue for some of the players, including Dupont, who has a colorful vocabulary.
Swedish curler Anna Hasselborg mentioned that being mic’d up never crosses her mind when she is on ice. “Maybe I should be thinking a little bit more about what I’m saying, but I’m not. The fans will definitely get the real story.”
Since athletes in the Olympics come from all over the world, it means that players from certain countries have an advantage as the other team can’t understand them. “I definitely think it’s an advantage that we speak a language that nobody else speaks, because, in English, you could always hear what they’re talking about,” says Dupont. Hasselborg added that she doesn’t whisper too much in Swedish and even if she can’t understand a certain language, she says she can still easily predict the opponent’s strategy.
“I think curling language is international. There are no secrets in curling,” Hasselborg said.