What is Curling?
Curling is a complex sport based around a very simple idea. Slide a stone down a sheet of ice and have it stop as near as possible to the centre of a set of concentric rings (the house). The challenge, however, is to prevent your opposition from sliding their stones closer to the centre of the house than yours. Both teams, usually comprising four players, will do everything they can, tactically, to stop each other from achieving this goal. So the game contains elements of great skill, strategy, finesse, exertion and endeavour; the perception that curling is a slow-paced game is just that – a perception.
Fairness is an important part of the game and you should not be surprised if your opponent points out to you that they have broken the rules, just to make sure that no advantage is given.
The physical element of sliding a stone is less demanding than might be imagined, and is refined and lessened by a good technical, no swing, delivery. This allows all curlers, young and old, male and female, able-bodied and disabled to compete on an equal footing. However, at national and international competition levels, the physical exertion of sweeping requires excellent fitness from at least half of the team, and mental toughness, teamwork and strategy are always important.
How does a game of curling work?
Each team has eight stones. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game, points being scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game may consist of ten or eight ends. The maximum score in each end is 8, requiring all of one team’s stones to out-count the others – such eight-enders are extremely rare.
The curler can induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides, and the path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the sheet, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. A great deal of strategy and teamwork goes into choosing the ideal path and placement for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine how close to the desired result the stone will achieve. This gives the game its nickname of “Chess On Ice”.
Still confused? Check out this video from World Curling TV.
Curling in the UK
Video: Curling at Deeside by Weekend Wireless