Alarms buzzed and chirped. Groggy heads shook off the half-night of sleep they managed to fit in. A hardy subset stuck it out and stayed up all night. Nationwide on one night in 2018, a legion of fans larger than the population of Philadelphia turned on their TVs to watch sports history.
Those fans - 1.6 million of them according to Sports Media Watch - stayed up through the wee hours watch one of the most exciting moments of the year in sports: the US Men's curling team coming from behind to defeat heavily-favored Sweden to win it all in Pyeongchang at about 4:15 a.m. New York time.
Americans are not alone in their newfound love of the curling. Many call it the world's fastest growing sport. More than half of the World Curling Federation's 67 member nations joined since 2000. Today, teams from six continents play for a growing worldwide TV and streaming audience.
The addition of curling to the winter games in 1998 marked a turning point in the history of curling. Now, fans could discover the action and strategy of curling far from the sport's traditional strongholds, from the comfort of their own homes. Every four years, we are treated to stories of people who found themselves unexpectedly drawn into curling.
Millions worldwide discovered curling on a screen. Thousands have already made the leap from screen to ice, filling curling clubs and driving interest to public "learn to curl" events.