For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


Curling: It’s Not Just Something You Do to Your Hair

January 3rd, 2010

curling-association.jpgIf you tune in to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this February, chances are you’ll run across the sport of curling. Four players stand on the ice while one player slides a 42 pound polished granite stone down a sheet of ice towards a bullseye and the other three players sweep the ice in front of the stone with brooms. It has been compared to shuffleboard, bowling, bocce, and even croquet. And while it shares traits with all four, it is its own unique sport.

The sport of curling dates back to the 1500s in Scotland. It debuted as an Olympic sport in the original modern Olympic Games of 1924. It appeared as a demonstration sport in the 1932 Lake Placid Games and then it was gone for 56 years. It returned as demonstration sport at the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games and was finally brought back again as an official medal sport at the 1998 Nagano Games.

As a game it combines strategy with physical finesse. There are two teams of four players each. Every player on the team takes turns shooting a 42 pound stone 126 feet down a sheet of ice towards four concentric circles. The center of these circles is the bullseye, which is 12 feet in diameter. The bullseye is also known as the “house” and the very center of the bullseye is the “tee.” The object is to have your stone closest to the tee. And hitting an opponent’s stone to move it out of the way and place your stone closest to the tee is all part of the game.

The name of the sport comes from the “curl”, which is the way the stone glides down the ice in a curve. The curve is caused by the shooter using a twist of the wrist when pushing the stone down the ice.

The most unique part of the game comes from the actions of the other three players after the shooter has sent the stone on its way. Armed with brooms, the three players sweep the ice in front of the stone as it travels towards the bullseye. The object of the sweeping is to help speed up or change the direction of the stone. The sweeping is directed by the team captain, also known as the “skip”, who shouts out instructions to the sweepers.

Each team member gets two shots. So each team ends up with 8 attempts to get their stones closest to the tee. This total of 16 shots by both teams is called an “end.” In each end after all 16 shots have been taken a team is awarded points when its stones are closest to the tee. The two teams play 10 ends in a match.

The Canadians and Norwegians who have traditionally dominated in curling are expected to be favorites in Vancouver, but there’s also a new country on the horizon. China won its first world curling title in 2009 at the Women’s World Championship in South Korea and they are expected to give the Canadians and Norwegians a run for their money.

This article on the sport of curling was supplied to us by Nana Weston from Constant Content.

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