Sssh! Russia's curling fans make din at wrong time
SOCHI, Russia — Thunderous chants of "Ro-ssi-ya, Ro-ssi-ya" echoed around the arena, compounding the cacophony of noise from the horns and clapping thundersticks.
There's no doubt Russian fans got right behind their men's and women's teams in the opening day of the Olympic curling tournament. The big question, though, was did it help or hinder their teams?
Britain skip David Murdoch thought the Russian cheering section may have adversely affected the performance of the local players by making a din as they were sliding out to deliver the stone.
"The different thing you will find here is the cheering when you are playing, and actually it might have been to Russia's detriment," Murdoch said. "That is the complete opposite of what you want."
Russia lost 7-4 to Britain in their first game of the round-robin stage, after recovering from a 6-1 deficit.
In the sixth end of the game, Russia's fans celebrating wildly when Alexey Stukalskiy slid his team's final stone directly onto the button — the central target in the house at the ends of each sheet. It may have looked good to the home supporters but, in fact, it left a pretty easy shot for Murdoch to bump that rock away and win four points for Britain.
Curling is far from Russia's best-loved sport. In the last major curling event held in Russia — the European championship in Moscow's Ice Palace in 2011 — only a few dozen spectators attended each session. There appeared to be more security guards than spectators.
The Ice Cube Curling Center was around three-quarters full during Monday's morning session. More fans arrived for the afternoon session involving the women's teams and there was plenty of passion and patriotism on show.
Some players admitted the raucous cheering and noise made it difficult to hear teammates, but didn't mind the volume or the atmosphere it provided.
"It was very, very loud out there. It was hard to hear line calls when the Russian fans were cheering, which is great," Canada player Ryan Harnden said. "It's nice to see them behind their own team.
"It was a bit of shock in the first two ends but a cool thing, too. It's nice that there is that much excitement around curling."