What is Crokinole? Canada’s lesser-known sports, games and pastimes

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I’m sure you know all about Canadians’ love for hockey, soccer and football. You may be even aware that lacrosse is the national summer sport and that basketball was invented by a Canadian. But have you ever heard of Crokicurl, Crokinole or Pitchnut?

Read on to know more about lesser known pastimes, sports and games in Canada:

Crokinole

More than a board game, Crokinole aficionados consider it a sport. Requiring eye-hand coordination, the object of the game is to flick discs into the centre hole of the board or into higher value fields. In essence, it is similar to billiards but without the stick (and balls). It can be played by two to four players. According to Wayne Kelly, author of the Crokinole Book, the earliest known crokinole board was made in 1876 by Perth County, Ontario craftsman Eckhardt Wettlaufer.

Interested in playing? Here is a how-to from The Retired CPO:

Crokicurl

A unique game invented by Winnipeggers, crokicurl is a combination of crokinole and curling. It is played on an octagonal playing ice surface using junior curling rocks (made of hard plastic, weighing half as much as a normal curling stone). Two teams play, facing off in groups of one or two. The goal is to accumulate the highest points by sliding the rock into the centre (the “button”) and having their other rocks poised in high-scoring positions. Invented by Winnipeg architects Liz Wreford Leanne Muir, Crokicurl debuted at The Forks, just outside of the market this winter, 2017.

Here is a video from CHVN Radio on Crokicurl:

Curling

Curling is definitely more widely-known and popular in Canada. It is also an Olympic sport. The object of the game is to get your stones (circular objects made of polished granite stones) closest to the “button” which is the center of the “houses” (the target that looks like a bullseye at each end of the playing surface). The stone is pushed and once it is sliding, other team members ensure that the stone gets to the target by sweeping the surface with brooms (the brooms eliminate “pebbles” or water droplets that turn to ice and cause the stones to “curl” or deviate from their path). Curling has Scottish roots but has developed into the totally unique Canadian sport that is played today.

Pitchnut

This is fast, finger flicking game played on a board (a square of about 28 inches). It is of French-Canadian origin and is mainly a variation of Pichenotte, which in turn comes from the game carrom from India or Sri Lanka. Two to four people can play. The object of the game is to sink your pieces (small discs) and the “poison” (equivalent to the eight ball in pool). Sinking the poison must come after sinking your pieces, otherwise, you lose. The pieces are struck with a large shooter (a bigger circular disc) by flicking, using the index and middle finger. Games usually last around five minutes.

Bandy

Largely overshadowed by the more widely played ice hockey, Bandy is a team sport that has similarities with ice hockey, field hockey, soccer, and football. It is the world’s second most popular winter sport. Bandy is played on a rink equivalent to the size of a soccer field (350 feet long and 180 feet wide), with 11 players from each team hitting a ball, not a puck. Just like in hockey, the object is to get the ball to the net. Bandy goalies also do not use a stick to stop the ball. They use two catching gloves to prevent a goal. Because body checking and fighting are not allowed, it is less physical, although players can make shoulder to shoulder contact when fighting for the ball. Another difference with hockey is that bandy players must skate faster than hockey players because of the bigger rink. In 2017, Team Canada won the home world cup for bandy (read: Total euphoria as Team Canada brings home world cup for bandy by Aidan Geary, CBC News.)

Skeleton

Luge, skeleton and bobsleigh are the three Olympic sliding sports. These may not necessarily originate from Canada, but because they are winter sports, naturally many Canadians excel in them. Skeleton is similar to luge (a one or two person sled that players race down on an icy track) except that the rider is face-down and races head –first. This Olympic sport is done on a steep and treacherous ice track and involves break-neck speed. Skeleton is considered the world’s first sliding sport. The first organized competition was in the late 1800s in the Swiss village of St. Moritz during the Cresta Run. It made its Olympic debut in 1928. (Watch Beginner’s Guide to Skeleton from the Olympic Youtube Channel to get an idea of how this exciting sport is played).

Sources: Crokinole.com; Ever heard of Crokinole? The ‘sport’ has a small but passionate following, Alina Simone, PRI; No joke-i-king! Crokicurling is a thing, Randy Turner, Winnipeg Free Press; What exactly is curling?Ethan Trex, MF; Bandy: The other ice hockey, Eric Converse, The Hockey Writers; Pitchnut.com; and Winter Olympics: Skeleton, Gerry Brown and Christine Frantz, infoplease. All sites accessed Feb 9, 2017.

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