Basics of Curling
Curling is a challenging sport based around a very simple idea. Slide a stone down a sheet of ice and have it stop as near the centre of a set of rings, called the house.
Your opposition will do everything tactically to stop you from achieving this goal so the game contains elements of great skill, strategy, finesse, exertion and endeavor. The perception that curling is a slow-paced game is just that, a perception.
It is one of the few sports which is open to people of all ages and abilities. Many take up curling as children and continue to play well into retirement. Curling is also unique for its social aspect and welcoming attitude towards all players. You could easily find yourself playing a friendly match with a World or Olympic Champion and sitting down to a drink together afterwards.
A curling game is made up of 8 ends, or 10 in a championship and teams are made up of four players. The head of the team is called the “skip” and is the most experienced. An end consists of each team member throwing two rocks, or curling stones, down the ice towards a point chosen by the skip. Each throw alternates between the two opposing teams.
The basic object of curling is to place your stone closest to the center of the 12 foot circular target area (the House). Each team has four players. Throwers teammates may use brooms or brushes to direct the stone's path. Brushing the ice creates a thin film of water that allows the stone to move more easily. There are ten ends (much like innings in baseball.) In each end teams alternate shots until sixteen stones have been thrown (actually, stone slide, they are not literally thrown). Players throw two of their team's stones then change position, and with the best player typically throwing last
Teams get one point for each stone they place closer to the center than the opponent’s closest stone to the center. Only one team can score per end. The team who throws the last stone in an end (the Hammer) has a tactical advantage. If Team A scores in an end Team B will have the Hammer in the next end. Teams with the hammer try to get at least 2 points, teams without the hammer try to limit the other team to 1 point if they cannot score themselves. If no stones are inside the House at the conclusion of the end no points are scored and the team with the hammer retains it in the next end.
Scoring is simple. The team receives one point for each of their rocks that are within the house and are closer to the center than any of the opposition's stones. A 12-foot circle (the house) is the scoring area. For each stone closer to the center of the circles than any of the opponent’s stones, one point is scored. The team scoring shoots first in the next end, giving the opponent the “hammer”, or last shot of that end. At the completion of each end, the thirds determine the score and using tags with the end number marked on them, hang the score up on the scoreboard. The score is read from the numbers across the center row of the scoreboard. The tags above and below the score represent the ends won.
The sheet of ice (playing surface) is 15’71/2” wide and 146 feet long, set up to accommodate play in both directions. The shooter must be accurate in aim, weight (velocity in delivery) and giving the rock the correct “handle” (or curl).
Each running stone curls (curves) as it proceeds down the ice depending on the twist it was given during delivery. The curl allows for better control of the stone. Team members sprint along the path of the stone and sweep with curling brooms to control the curl and the speed. Sweeping slightly melts the ice, which reduces the friction between the running stone and the ice surface. The result is the stone will curl less and slide farther, and Judicious sweeping in front of the moving stones can affect both the distance traveled, and the amount of curling a stone does on it's way down the sheet of ice.
Curling is a game of skill and of tradition. A shot well executed is a delight to see and it is also a fine thing to observe the time-honored traditions of curling being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers play to win, but never to humble their opponents. A true curler never attempts to distract opponents, nor to prevent them from playing their best, and would prefer to lose rather than to win unfairly. Curlers never knowingly break a rule of the game, nor disrespect any of its traditions. Should they become aware that this has been done inadvertently, they will be the first to divulge the breach.