A surface topography analysis of the curling stone curl mechanism

Viktor Honkanen, Markus Ovaska, Mikko J. Alava, Lasse Laurson, Ari J. Tuononen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
150 Downloads (Pure)


The curling motion of the curling stone on ice is well-known: if a small clockwise rotational velocity is imposed to the stone when it is released, in addition to the linear propagation velocity, the stone will curl to the right. A similar curl to the left is obtained by counter-clockwise rotation. This effect is widely used in the game to reach spots behind the already thrown stones, and the rotation also causes the stone to propagate in a more predictable fashion. Here, we report on novel experimental results which support one of the proposed theories to account for the curling motion of the stone, known as the "scratch-guiding theory". By directly scanning the ice surface with a white light interferometer before and after each slide, we observed cross-scratches caused by the leading and trailing parts of the circular contact band of the linearly moving and rotating stone. By analyzing these scratches and a typical curling stone trajectory, we show that during most of the slide, the transverse force responsible for the sideways displacement of the stone is linearly proportional to the angle between these cross-scratches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8123
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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