When the Winter Olympics kicks in, there are surely a lot of sports to watch and marvel at. Ice hockey, speed skating, ski jumping, bobsleigh, alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboarding… and one of the most interesting sport there is, curling.
To some people, curling looks like a simple yet befuddling sport. However, to those who play it, curling is an extremely enjoyable game that takes a lot of strength, techniques, focus, and teamwork.
In this guide, you will know everything there is to know about curling--- and why you should give a try, as well.
In the sport of curling, the goal is very simple: to have your team’s curling stone (or stone) as close to the target as possible. It is very much like the game of bocce, where players throw balls as near to the smaller target ball as they can. It is also a mix of bowling on ice and shuffleboard.
To the untrained eye, curling seems easy to play. To most people, it is hardly an exercise to the body. But, according to longtime curling players and international competitors, curling is not a walk in the park.
Read more about curling and discover how intense and muscle-flexing this sport is.
Get to know the mechanics of the sport with these important information:
In curling, there are usually two teams competing against each other.
Each team has four members:
Skip - The skip serves as the captain/leader of the team, and are commonly stationed behind the target. He/she is usually the one who determines the curl, weight, and direction of the curling stone. These will be relayed to the delivering member by a tap of the curling broom on the ice.
Lead - The one throwing the curling stone. He/she is responsible for the right delivery of the stone. Before releasing the stone, the lead must position his/her foot on the hack first, which is like the base for the feet. With the right balance, focus, and turn of the hand to curl the stone, it is up to the lead to follow the instructions of the skip and deliver the stone right.
Second - The second member is one of the sweepers of the team. When the lead slides the curling stone to the target, the second and third members have to sweep hard and fast (depending on the skip’s orders) until the stone reaches the target.
Third - The third member also acts as the vice-skip, meaning when it is the skip’s turn to deliver the stone, the third will take over his/her position. When not fulfilling the duties of the skip, the third member’s job is to sweep after the curling stone.
Like any winter games, curling’s playing surface is also built on ice. It is formally known as the “sheet,” and it usually measures about 150 feet long and 15 feet wide.
The sheet is always covered with pebbles, or water droplets that become ice in the long run. These pebbles are the culprit as to why the stones curl, or stray from a straight direction.
The target of the curling stones is called the “house.” It looks like a big bulls-eye, and of course with a center called the “button.” The main goal of curling is to get your team’s stones as near to the button as possible.
As you watch the Winter Olympics, specifically the curling game, you may wonder: what is up with all that sweeping? Are they cleaning up after every move?
No, they are not janitors. As mentioned earlier, these sweepers are part of the team--- and they know what exactly they are doing.
In curling, sweeping at the path of the stone is very important. Remember the water droplets on the sheet known as the pebbles? These tiny droplets can cause problems when they come in contact with the curling stone, and chances are they could slow the stone down or make it curl as opposed to the right path.
Sweeping helps raise the temperature of the ice, which amplifies the friction a bit between the curling stone and the pebbles. As a result, the stone can move swiftly in a straight path, with no obstruction at all.
Bearing a slight resemblance to bocce, the scoring in curling also goes this way: the stones that are inside the house or within the big bulls-eye target will be scored accordingly. If a stone is within the house’s zone of 12 foot or 3.7 meters, or if any part of the stone lies on the edges of the house, then it is considered “inside.”
If both teams have delivered their eight stones each (a total of 16 curling stones), then a game, called an “end,” is complete. The whole sport of curling is composed of 10 ends.
In curling, they use two types of scoreboards:
Baseball-style - This type of scoreboard is used for televised games, because some people are not familiar with the traditional club scoreboard. The baseball-type scoreboard consists of columns 1 to 10 to specify the ends, then on the bottom are the rows of each team and their respective scores.
Club scoreboard - This one is used in most curling clubs all over the world. With the club scoreboard, they make use of up to 11 digit cards, with a numbered center row that depicts all the players’ possible accumulated points (from 1 to 15). Then, the team’s rows are located on the top and bottom of the centered row, with numbers which reflect the end where they got a certain point. For example, if Team A (upper row) scores four in the first end, then a number 1 (which indicates the first end) will be placed above the number 4 of the center row.