What Is Curling?

Home & Family, Outdoors, People, Sports
on September 20, 2011

In the 16th century, the game of curling involved players sliding oddly shaped rocks, called loafies, across the lochs and marshes of Scotland, according to the Potomac Curling Club at the National Capital Curling Center. Modern curling involves meticulously prepared ice, granite rocks and some of the best brooms money can buy. Curling became an official Winter Olympics sport in 1998.

Basic rules. Think bowling. Think bowling with a 44-pound stone with a handle instead of a bowling ball, a pair of shoes that slide on ice instead of bowling lanes, two brooms to guide the rock instead of neatly slicked lanes, a 138-by-14-f00t patch of ice instead of an alley and a concentric, multicolored circle to aim the rock at instead of 10 pins to knock down.

The rink. Curlers aim at a bull's-eye-looking circle at each end of the rink. The center circle is known as the house. In the center of the house is the tee. The tee has no special value. It serves as an aiming point. Around the tee are three circles of 4, 8 and 12 feet in diameter. The rink consists of two sets of circles, one at each end. The rink ice is not completely smooth. It is sprinkled with warm water, called pebbling, in order to allow the stone to curve when the curler spins it down the ice.

Basic equipment. The two pieces of essential curling equipment are a slider; a piece of Teflon, plastic or steel attached to the shoe that allows for easy sliding on the ice; and a broom, used to polish the ice as the rock travels to its intended destination. An official curling stone is required for an official curling match. The Curling School explains the rock as "solid chunks of special, high-density granite found in Wales and Scotland." Advanced curling equipment includes special shoes, curling gloves, pants and jackets.

Game play. A curling team consists of four players who alternate shooting the stone at the target. Each player shoots two stones, with the ultimate objective of getting the closest stone to the tee. Each player's shot is intended to get close to the tee, knock an opponent's stone out of the way or knock a teammate's stone closer. Once all 16 rocks have been played (called an end), the score is totaled. Only one team can get points. A point is rewarded for any stone that is closer to the tee than the opponent's closest stone. A stone can be scored only if at least half of it resides in the house. A game consists of 10 ends.