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Curling – a rockin’ sport at the 2010 Winter Olympics

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USA women's curling team by oropeza via Flickr

USA women's curling team by oropeza via Flickr

Curling is getting a lot of newfound attention at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. On the February 14 episode of “The Simpsons”, Homer declared “pack your winter coat, we’re going to Canada’s warmest city,” as he and Marge joined USA’s Olympic curling team.

This week, rowdy Canadian fans at a curling match made the news because they upset competitors who expect quiet, like in a game of golf. It seems that the sport has hit the mainstream with more people tuning into curling than ever before.

Curling Olympic Schedule

Today, February 26th you can catch the Women’s Bronze Medal Game at 9 A.M., and the Women’s Gold Medal Game at 3 P.M. Tomorrow, February 27th tune in for the Men’s Bronze Medal Game at 9 A.M., and the Men’s Gold Medal Game at 3 P.M.

The sport of curling consists of four person teams taking turns sliding granite rocks across a sheet of carefully prepared ice. As the rock slides along, other team members sweep along its path to help guide the stone to the target area.

This week curling has been the most searched for Olympic winter sport. It seems that people hear about it and think “hey, I can do that, it’s like bowling or shuffleboard,” and if Homer Simpson can make it to the Olympics why can’t we?

So how do you curl? Well first, you would need a sheet of ice that has been carefully prepared to be as flat and smooth as possible. A target or house has to be marked on each end of the sheet. The World Curling Federation defines the house as containing three concentric rings that vary in diameter. The rings are used to judge which stone is closer to the center.

Next you will need a curling stone, also called a rock in North America. They can weigh up to 44 pounds and have handles attached to the top. Finally you will also need a curling broom. In that past players used brooms similar to those used for household cleaning but today the brooms are more like brushes. You might also want to get some special teflon curling shoes, curling pants and gloves.

So you have all of your equipment, you’ve got a team together and the ice sheet is ready to go, but how do you play? In competition, a game of curling consists of ten ends. For a recreational game, teams usually play eight ends. An end consists of each player from both teams throwing two stones, alternating turns. A total of 16 stones are thrown and points are awarded to the team with the stone closest to the button or the center of the house. That team receives a point for every stone  that is closer to the center than the opposing team’s closest stone. The team with the most points after all the ends have been played wins.

Now, what are the brooms for? After the stone is initally thrown or delivered, the sweepers can try and influence its trajectory. Sweeping’s two main functions in curling are to make the stone travel farther and to change the amount of curl or bend in the rock’s path. It sounds simple but a lot of strategy goes into deciding when and how much to sweep.

When you watch a curling match you will notice a lot of yelling going on between the team members and that is due to the skip (usually the best player on the team) calling the line or the path of the moving rock, and the sweepers calling the weight or the amount of speed with which the stone has been thrown.

Much like golf, curling is believed to have originated in Scotland and is considered a “gentleman’s game” because there are certain rules of etiquette to follow and players call their own fouls. It is also considered a very social game allowing for men and women to play together on the same teams. The “spirit of curling” involves the winning team buying drinks for the losing team after the game.

So how about it San Diego? Will you give curling a try?

2 Comments

  1. Grace

    February 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks for explaining the sport of curling in understandable language. My dad saw it on TV as they were broadcasting the Olympics. He and I were wondering about curling. Now I can tell him how it’s played. 🙂

  2. Elli Bembury

    February 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Hello.This article was really motivating, especially because I was investigating for thoughts on this topic last Saturday.

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